Saturday, January 7, 2017

Security Guards : Exploited Labour in the National Capital

A few weeks ago, I was staying in a nearly empty guest house with just a security guard (also doubling up as a part time housekeeper) for company. For the two or three days that I was there, he took care of me well. As I was about to leave and my taxi was at the gate, he asked if he could have a few minutes with me. He asked me if I was a doctor as he had heard. When I affirmed that I was, he rolled up his trousers, exposing an angry, swollen and very obviously infected wound below his right knee, he asked if I would prescribe him something. He told me that he was applying some ointment locally but it wasn’t working. The condition of the wound was such that it was very clearly not going to heal through application of any local ointment.

Antibiotics and possibly strong ones at that were needed, if not some minor surgical intervention to drain the pus. Not wanting to prescribe anything in a hurry, I asked him to visit a doctor knowing that the Delhi government had recently opened Mohalla clinics which were said to be functioning well. He told me that wasn’t going to be possible. On probing further, he informed me to my horror that he received a monthly salary of Rs 6,000 with no leave for a 12 hour shift , 365 days a year and if he took any leave at all due to dire necessity, he would lose a day’s wages and with his pay being what it was, he couldn’t afford that. All I could do with my taxi honking impatiently was to give him my phone number and ask him to call me the next day so that I could take a little more in depth history, if I needed to prescribe anything. He never called back, I have never returned to the guest house since and I often wonder how he is faring.

The security business in Delhi has been operating under the Delhi Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Rules, 2009. Under this Act, a security agency takes a licence for its operations, which remains valid for five years. Most of these companies have been flagrantly violating the rules and regulations of the PSARA guidelines. Week offs, insurance, perks are a far-fetched dream for these guards hired on contractual basis. Many of these guards are not even acquainted with the rights and duties made for them under the above mentioned guidelines. They have been working for the sake of getting employment which is still a dream for many, thus, encouraging agencies to hire people on wages less than the stipulated amount.

Delhi is now being governed by a government that is of and for the “Aam Aadmi” and it is time the government took note of the pathetic conditions under which security guards work. Just as ministers are busy inspecting schools and hospitals and penalizing them if they are not meeting their obligations to the poor, it is time that some one picked up the cause of these exploited security guards.

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