How secure are security guards?

How sure are you that the security guard you hired to secure your properties is financially and emotionally secure? Chances are, if he is one of those underpaid, overworked and exploited guards of security agencies that offer below standard rates just to get contracts, your security guard could be prone to be involved in shady deals, or, at the least, be sleeping on post.

Even with the issuance of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Order No, 174, the order ending contractualization, this illegal industry practice will continue to flourish, unless the government intervenes and punish those who violate the law and exploit helpless security guards.

Security agencies are not covered by the order ending contractualization because these companies are considered contractors with substantial capital investments on tools and equipment to facilitate the performance and delivery of its contracts. In short, security agencies are not involved in labor only contracting.

Cutthroat competition

But one major problem that is hounding the industry is the prevalence of unfair competition from security agencies that offer cutthroat rates to corner certain contracts. Some security agencies offer very low rates and would not even charge administrative fees in their quotation to bring down their rates. These agencies would, however, raise the funds for its administrative requirements from the funds allocated for the salaries and other benefits of its guards.

Thus, many guards posted on small business establishments, villages and warehouses among others, are working 10 to 12-hour shifts without overtime pay. Many of them are also without social security protection, even if their security agencies are deducting Social Security System (SSS) and Pag-Ibig contributions from their salaries each payday.

With many Filipinos desperate to find jobs, these agencies practically have unlimited supply of applicants who are willing to be exploited in exchange for a measly pay.

Moreover, there are security agencies that practically rob their guards of their hard earned money. Take for instance the retirement fund being paid by the principal (companies that engage the services of a security agency) to the security agency, supposedly to cover the retirement fund of their guards, are these funds being paid to their guards?

If a security agency, for instance, has a minimum number of years of service requirement for its guards to comply before they will be entitled to retirement benefits, what happens to their retirement fund if their guards resign before they can comply with the minimum number of years of service requirement?  Who keeps the fund?

The retirement fund is usually paid by the client to the security agency, especially among its big customers like banks, among others. And, depending on the turnover rate of agencies with their guards, security agencies are probably earning windfall profits even from their accumulated retirement fund alone.

Big customers are willing to pay all the benefits due to their guards, if only to be sure that the guards assigned to secure their properties are well trained and well equipped. Unfortunately though, some security agencies are feasting on these funds, instead of their guards benefitting from them. Some agencies don’t even conduct regular trainings for their guards, nor provide them with new and reliable firearms.

These illegal industry practices are affecting the operations of law abiding security companies. The business reality is that the private security industry, like any other market sector, is competition-driven. And whoever offers the least rates for its services gets a better chance of getting contracts. This is a given business norm, although there are also many customers who would not jeopardize quality of service to cost, like customers who are after value for their money.

Strong government intervention needed

And because of this industry reality, government intervention should be a must. It should closely monitor the industry and be watchful of security agencies that exploit their guards for their weaknesses and desperate need for money. The government should ensure that all security guards are covered by the social and retirement benefits provided by law. After all, the essence of EO 174 is to protect the interest of workers.

This is all a matter of determination on the part of the government. But for the law to have an impact on the industry, the Department of Labor and Employment should show its determination to weed out unscrupulous security agencies by punishing those that exploit their guards.






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