More than 50 employees of a security firm in Malindi Town have threatened to down their tools to protest at their employer’s failure to pay their salaries amounting to millions of shillings.
The security guards working with Comfort Security Services claimed that the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Patrick Karisa, had failed to pay them their monthly salaries of up to eight months, making life difficult for them especially during the Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis.
They accused Mr. Karisa of taking them in circles whenever they confront him concerning their pay, saying their employer had resorted to intimidation, telling them that they would lose all their dues in case they quit.
“We are now torn between two options: to quit and lose our pay or to stay put and remain destitute due to lack of pay,” Davis Mtawali told journalists at the Sindbad garden in Malindi Town on Wednesday.
Mtawali said the security officers’ cries for help from the Ministry of Labour offices and the police in Malindi had fallen on deaf ears and wondered whether the two government agencies had been compromised.
“Life has become unbearable especially during the Covid-19 crisis as we are not able to pay rent and put food on the table. We are forced to rely on food donations from our parents in the rural areas yet they (parents) expect us to be supporting them since we are employed,” he said.
He said most of the guards were youth between the age of 20 years to 28 years seeking to earn a living and that it was wrong for an individual to take advantage of them.
He said despite failing to pay them, the director had used the money to build a luxurious bar and restaurant as they (guards) continue to suffer.
“We’ve tried to raise our issues with different offices but this has not been successful,” he said adding, “Some of us have suffered the misfortune of losing our wives, who have run away since we cannot feed them.”
He called on the government to intervene and have the matter settled, “before we do something drastic against the law,” he said.
Emmanuel Ndurya, another employee, said that he is a frustrated man after been taken for a ride by the employer, who he said had forced them to open bank accounts with Imarika Sacco Society in Malindi but had not deposited even a cent in the accounts.
“Our employer has continued to give us false promises and always resorts to insult and intimidation whenever we confront him with the matter,” he said.
He said some of his colleagues had been kicked out of their houses for failure to pay rent while others depend on their parent’s assistance to survive the harsh economic times.
Contacted for comment, the director confirmed that he had some financial problems because the Kilifi County Government, which has contracted the firm to provide security services to its installations, had not received money from the Exchequer due to the stalemate over the revenue sharing formula in the Senate, so could not pay the company.
“As you well know, county governments have not received money due to the stalemate in the Senate, but immediately this is resolved and I receive money, I will sort out all my employees,” he said.
Speaking on phone, the CEO assured the workers that none of them would be victimized, saying he understood their plight.
Although the employees claimed Karisa had told them to open bank accounts at Imarika Sacco Society, he told the Kenya News Agency on phone that he was paying them through the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), Malindi branch.
By Emmanuel Masha/Joe Caleb