Security guards yearn for ‘protection’ from COVID-19

It appears that those in charge of protecting our assets at their own personal cost have no health protection cover, even in times of a pandemic. In the last six months, as many as 25 private security guards in Mumbai have succumbed to COVID-19. For the same period, private security agencies have also not received any financial aid from the state government.

To protect the exploitation of private security guards, the state government had formed the Security Guards Board of Maharashtra (SGBM) in 1981. Presently, nearly 45,000 security guards are directly employed under this board and all the private security agencies are affiliated to it. However, only those directly employed under the board have received an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh amidst the pandemic. And five lakh private security guards across the state have been deprived of it. "Private security agencies are directly affiliated with the state board. So, there's no point in depriving them from the insurance cover," said Gurcharan Singh Chauhan, president Security Association of India (SAI), the umbrella body of private security agencies.

"Alongside the Goods and Services Tax (GST), each of these agencies pay an yearly levy of three per cent to the state government and the board has collected more than Rs 100 crore. However, not a single rupee has come as financial welfare to us," Chauhan added.

Earlier, in July, SAI had also moved the Bombay High Court. The court seeked response from the state board. To this, the board replied saying, “The three per cent levy that we charge is being used by us for the maintenance of our office.” To this, Chauhan claimed that SGBM charges five per cent administrative fees from their employers who seek service from them directly. This is the money that is meant to be used for the maintenance of the office. He also claimed, “In the last 18 years, no welfare money is being spent on security guards by SGBM.”

Meanwhile, Rajesh Ade, chairman of SGBM, Mumbai, stated that it's the call of the state government to provide welfare to the security workers. “The three per cent levy we get is being used for our administrative purposes. The matter is in court. So, it's not right for me to say anything more on the matter before a judgement is ruled,” Ade told the Free Press Journal.

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