In India, security guards are one of the vulnerable groups working in large numbers in the informal sector. As this job does not require any skill, high qualification and tough interview process, most of the unskilled persons, poorly educated youths and unemployed youth having good physique who belong to the rural and urban areas prefer to do this job.
They mainly work in factories or manufacturing units, shopping malls, government and private offices, hospitals and individuals’ homes. These people risk their lives to save the property and life of others. We sleep peacefully at night because they are awake. In most of the cases these people are not directly recruited by the owner where they work. They are mainly requited by a third party agency and hence their jobs are under their control. They work as outsource workers and they get their salaries from the recruited agencies. Outsourcing agencies paid them less keeping their own share from the companies.
It has been noted that security guards work for long hours standing in a place. Because of the nature of their job they are not given leave at a time when are in need. In many places they are motivated to do overtime duty without getting paid for it and if they are paid it is less than the actual rate. These people work under very precarious conditions without any social security and safety net. They cannot protest against their superiors as they are requited by third parties. If they do so they are terminated from their jobs. In fear of losing jobs, these people bear all the mistreatments.
During this pandemic crisis the security guards have suffered the most. To know the actual condition of security guards, a telephonic interview was conducted with a friend who works in Tamil Nadu. Rahul (hidden name), a 26-year-old youth from Sambalpur, Odisha who works in Royal Enfield Company said, “We continue to do our duty by force and risk ourselves while some other workers are safe in their homes. Our responsibility includes checking all the outsiders coming to company without any protective measures and gear except a face mask. We are afraid of being infected with Corona virus. Most of the local workers who are stuck in their home are getting their full salaries but we are not being givenleave. We are also working overtime as many security guards are stuck in their homes.”
This is not a single case. Many security guards who are working in various parts of the country might be facing same problem. It is the duty of the companies who employ them to provide them with protective measures and gears during this pandemic crisis. The lives of the security guards should not be left at risk.
(The views expressed are the writer’s own.)
Prakash Bhue is pursuing his Ph.D in Sociology at Sambalpur University, Odisha. He is a Research Fellow under Odisha University Research and Innovation Incentivisation Plan (OURIIP). His articles have been published in various national and international journals. You can reach him at: [email protected]