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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Guards’ wages go unguarded

Bhubaneswar, Jan. 22: Paltry remuneration combined with the government’s step-motherly attitude has made life miserable for security guards in the capital.

Although they have to spend long hours at work, their wages don’t even match the prevailing market rates. However, the security agencies continue to charge hefty fees from their clients.

Pramod Ranjan Panda, who works as a security guard in the capital, said: “I get paid Rs 105.50 per day for eight hours of work. I can’t survive without doing overtime.”

Panda, a native of Kendrapara, came to the capital three years ago looking for a job before he finally landed up at a security agency and was employed as a guard. What he gets is a pittance compared to the prevailing wage rates of Rs 250 even for an unskilled labourer.

Although the security guards have voiced their concern several times, the government has remained silent on their demands for implementation of wages applicable for skilled labourers.

A skilled worker such as a mason or carpenter is paid Rs 350 to Rs 400 for a day’s work.

“We are skilled and professionals. We should at least be paid Rs 250 if not Rs 400,” said Panda, who dreads his monthly trips to his village as he is invariably short of money to buy anything for his two kids.

“My village is nearly 120km from here. I feel embarrassed to go there, as I have never been able to buy clothes or anything else for my wife and children. I return after handing over Rs 1,000 to my wife for her monthly expenses,” said the 32-year-old security guard.

A security guard gets overtime allowance only if he puts in 16 hours of duty. The employers pay them wages only for 26 days, deducting the money for four off days.

Around 1.5 lakh private security guards are employed in different parts of the state.

Protesting against the step-motherly attitude of the government towards their demand, the security guards launched a weeklong protest yesterday. Their demands include a minimum monthly pay packet of Rs 6,000, instead of the present Rs 2,700, a formal letter of appointment and three pairs of uniform in a year.

Labour union leader Naba Mohanty said: “We have already sent a proposal to enhance the minimum wage to Rs 160 per day for unskilled labourers. It is now under the consideration of the government.”