Security Workers Organise, Demand Better pay, Working Conditions
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Kolkata: Dilip Das, 58, works as a security operative for the KRG group. He says that despite the workplace providing water and sanitation facilities, many security and allied workers do not get access to toilets and safe drinking water at the premises.
There are also significant wage disparities among security workers in the state. “During the Left Front government’s time in West Bengal, security workers used to receive regular increments. The last increment provided to the security workers of the state was in 2013; after that, the concept of tri-yearly increments stopped abruptly,” said Das, who has been working in private security for the last thirty years.
First, there are the private security workers employed in malls and private offices, whose conditions are appalling. Some of them receive as little as 5,000 rupees a month, while others get 7,000 rupees a month, with no benefits such as provident fund (PF) or ESI. Then, there are the security workers under various state government departments who earn a monthly salary of 9,500 rupees, which is less than the state’s minimum wage.
These workers get no holidays or other facilities and are expected to work 30 days a month without pay. The security workers enlisted with various central government departments receive a fixed remuneration of Rs 23,000 per month, making them slightly better off than their counterparts in malls or state government departments.
“Those of us who work in the bank ATMs do not even get drinking water or toilet facilities, and we are not allowed to pull down the shutter of the ATMs when we are out following nature’s call,” he added.
Debanjan Chakraborty, founder and joint convenor of the Private Security Guards and Allied Workers Union of India, acknowledged that ensuring minimum wages for security workers is a significant challenge in the country.
“But when there is a union, in many cases, PF, gratuity, bonus, and ESI facilities are extended. However, in many districts, the unions do not have representation, and workers are subjected to rampant exploitation,” he said.
Chakraborty points to the need to properly implement the Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act. “This is our main demand. In most states, the eight-hour work timeframe is not adhered to. Another demand of the security workers is that they all should have appointment letters with photo identity cards and a minimum wage of Rs 26,000 per month. All of them should have PF, ESI, gratuity, bonus, and workmen’s compensation as stipulated by the Act,” he said. He also highlighted the demand for a national-level security and housekeeping board.
The union has demanded that basic amenities like water, restrooms, uniforms, torchlights, and safety equipment be provided.
Against this background, the National Coordination Committee of Private Security Guards and Allied Workers Union held a national workshop on the organisation of workers in Kolkata. The convention discussed ways to strengthen the organisation of security workers throughout the country and measures to form new unions within the coordination committee.
Kerala and West Bengal were the top two performers in new member recruitment based on the membership charter in 2021. The event was addressed by CITU state secretary Anadi Sahu, CITU West Bengal state president Subhas Mukherjee, Debanjan Chakraborty, and M Saibabu, the convenor of the organisation.
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