Union rejects plan by regulator to deduct guards' salaries for training

Private security guards from different firms during the Mass Registration dubbed '30K for 30K' at Uhuru Park, Nairobi on March 30th,2024.  [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The giant private security workers’ union has rejected an arrangement to deduct training fees from its members' salaries by the regulator.

According to the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union (KNPSWU), the cost is exorbitant and the exercise violates the constitution.

The union said the plan by the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSRA) was not subjected to public participation as enshrined in the constitution.

In a letter to the private security firms, KNPSWU General Secretary Dr Isaac Andabwa said the union, which has over 1.3 million members, will challenge the “forced deduction” in court if not stopped.

In March this year, PSRA announced the start of the mandatory vetting, training, and registration of private security guards. Those trained and vetted will be licensed to continue working as security officers.

PSRA said in a statement then that the security guards trained, vetted, and registered will be issued with Guard Force Numbers (GFNs). The regulator did not however say who will foot the cost of training.

Yesterday, Dr Andabwa said each guard was being forced to pay a training fee ranging between Sh5,000 and 8,000 for the training by the PSRA, forcefully deducted from their salaries by the employer.

“We have received several crisis complaints from our members across the country in regards to a forced deduction fee ranging from between Sh5000- 8,000, by the Ministry of Interior and National Coordination under PSRA for training and issuance of guard force numbers. This was done without proper consultation, explanation, and public participation,” said Dr Andabwa yesterday in a letter to the security firms demanding a stop to the deductions.

He said the union will seek legal redress to quash the “illegal orders” by the Ministry of Interior and PSRA to private security firms to deduct the guards’ salaries.

“KNPSWU is seeking to know the service providers in terms of the training whether public or private as well as the custodian of the monies being deducted for the same,” said Dr Andabwa.

He said the deduction would impoverish the guards currently struggling to meet basic needs like meals, rent, medical expenses among other necessities that life demands.

“The purpose of this communication is to urgently demand the stoppage of the said deductions until the guards are well informed and in voluntary consent with employers to effect the levy,” states the letter.

It adds: “It is well within our knowledge; the continued raid on the employee’s pockets has left many in deplorable situations in terms of their purchasing and bargaining power.”

Dr Andabwa said the matter should be put into open discussion and “an amicable way forward agreed upon, or else the union will be forced to move to court to seek legal address.”

KNPSWU chairman Elijah Manani said the mandatory deductions of Sh8,000 per guard by the Ministry of Interior were implemented without their input.

“We cannot continue fleecing the private security officer’s majority who earn below 13,000 and are living in abject poverty,” he said.

At the same time, the union denied claims by PSRA Chief Executive Officer Mr Fazul Mahamed that the Central Organization of Trade Union (COTU) gets Sh 1.63 billion from the private security workers.

Mr Manani said there are about 1.3 m private security workers in Kenya, but not all are members of the union or COTU (K). Those not in unions do not give any money to COTU according to the official.

“Our contributions to COTU are not above Sh1.2 million. Claims that the figure is Sh1.63 billion is false, non-factual and misleading and bound to rake havoc, personal insecurity and instability in the sector,” said Manani.