Meager salary blamed for guards leaving in droves

Employers say otherwise 

Security service: With about seven security guards leaving their job every month, Jachung and Elite Security Service providers are grappling with the issue of retaining trained guards.

Records with Jachung Security Services (JSS) show that 87 guards left last year. Elite Security Services (ESS) officials said about 100 employees left between 2014-15.

The high attrition rate is attributed to the poor salary against the long working hours. Better prospects or higher studies, inadequate growth opportunities and job profile are other reasons.

JSS pays their guards a basic monthly salary of Nu 3,750 besides a housing allowance of Nu 1,250. ESS pays Nu 6,000 basic salary. Both the companies charge about Nu 10,000 to Nu 11,000 a month to the company or agency that hire the service of the trained guards.

JSS guards sign a two-year contract upon the completion of the training while the ESS guards sign 18-months contract. They are entitled to Nu 23 and Nu 19 per hour as overtime payment. JSS trains about 150 to 200 guards in a year while ESS has trained about 400 guards since it started in 2012.

Company officials said their employees are entitled provident fund (PF), gratuity and insurance schemes, among others in line with the Labour Act.

Guards’ grievances

A female JSS guard is not sure if she would continue with the job. She gets a salary of Nu 8,000 inclusive of four hours overtime daily. She has signed a contract for two years. “It’s difficult surviving with this salary having to pay about Nu 4,000 as house rent alone,” she said.

Another JSS guard said that he had left the job before completion of the contract term but had to return after the office traced him to his village.

“As I couldn’t refund, I had to complete the remaining contract term,” he said, adding that it was better to toil the fields than work on such a meager salary.

Some guards from ESS said they are not paid on time and that they are not sure of the deductions, if any, as they are never issued a pay slip. They also said that they don’t get leave. “We work 12 hours a day most of the time.”

Another guard said that he gets a monthly salary of about Nu 7,700 including overtime payment. “I want to quit as soon as my contract ends. I can’t survive here,” he said. “I can’t imagine life after I get married.”

It’s not only salary

JSS’s Chief Executive Officer Palden Dorji agreed that the salary is low. Besides the issues of salary, he said, the working condition especially in winters and some opting for higher studies were other reasons.

“We are trying to address the issue as best as we can,” he said, adding that JSS employees will get a salary revision of Nu 250 from next month.

“The attrition rate is high. It’s a tough job but they are paid well above the minimum wage,” Palden Dorji said. “Still it’s not enough so we encourage them to do overtime but there are some locations where they are not required to do overtime.”

JSS officials said their guards are entitled to gratuity after five years and yearly bonus schemes besides the annual increment of Nu 250.

“But for the guards, the take home salary matters more than long-term benefits,” Palden Dorji said.

JSS officials said that the revision of Nu 250 may not make much difference for an individual, but it had a huge cost implication on the company. Revision for 500 employees translates to Nu 185,000 a month or Nu 220,000 a year.

“To recover the cost, we’ve to pass it on to the clients but the clients are not willing to pay higher as they emphasise on the minimum daily wage,” Palden Dorji said, adding that he is already worried about the profitability of the company next year.

Although clients pay Nu 10,000 to Nu 11,000, Palden Dorji said that the company’s overhead cost was high as it started as a FDI company where they invested about half a million USD.

“And we are still paying the loan. If we had started as a local company, we wouldn’t have required such well-set infrastructure,” he said. “I’m worried if the Nu 250 revision would have the desired impact.”

ESS officials said that youth come for training as a last resort. They said the attrition rate was high among the educated guards as they are always on the look out for better prospects.

ESS’s chief security officer, Kezang Wangchuk said that as soon as guards get jobs elsewhere, they leave. “They are always looking for better option but not in terms of salary,” he said, adding that educated guards tend to look down on the job.

On the accusation of late payment, Kezang Wangchuk said that as a new company, initially there were issues. “Now we pay them before the 5th day of every month,” he said.

Similarly, he said the guards are entitled five days causal leave, paternity leave and medical leave besides three months maternity for female employees.

“They don’t get leave during the probation period of six months,” he said. Guards get unpaid emergency leave.

Labour ministry officials said they have no say as long as employees are paid the minimum monthly wage of Nu 3,750.

Kinga Dema

2 replies
  1. dingodog
    dingodog says:

    The so-called ‘training’ they receive is little more than how to march around and salute. They are not even given torches for nighttime service. A security company! Are you kidding?
    They pay starvation wages, particularly for workers in Thimphu which has a high cost of living. Guards get no day off (that must be illegal) and are docked salary for sick days. A Nu250 annual increase is a joke. If a company which hires JSS pays Nu10,000 per guard and they need three guards a days to cover the 24 hours, JSS is raking in Nu30,000/month (assuming only a single guard is needed…it would be more if there are more guards).

    [This post has been moderated]

  2. truthseeker
    truthseeker says:

    To the context above in article, to me I think another factor of high attrition rate is due to low employment rate in country. Not many chooses this career as its down-looked by many, yet it is not well understood that, those working are the people with Job Respect and genuinely in desire need of survival.

    The salary attributed towards, should also be considered. But What qualification would a security Guard would be of, if the salary was to be good enough? Graduates? Twelve Passed? To me most of the security people in both the company were to be from low qualified. Maybe class 5 or 6 or some even illiterate. Its the opportunity for those uneducated people to get job. On my encounter with on of the Guards, he said previously he used to be monk and then he resigned from monastery due to some problem. Without having any way towards for him, the security job was good enough at the moment of his need.

    Personally, these are the companies who even takes in those ex-army, who still want to do service after they are released from National Force due to any reason. And they find oneself in calling themselves as employed.

    The grievances of Guards are legitimate but not reasonable. As per the article, the female guard earns Nu. 8000 with overtime that, to me, seems good enough for a guard. Now to live in a house rented for Nu. 4000 or 8000 is up to her and she personally and any other guard, should calculate and manage their earning.

    If I work as a driver, then I should manage to spent the earning earned to the level of driver and not of some boss. If not the salary will never be enough.

    The concerned governing agency like MoLHR and stake holders should also try and implement whereby an employee is delivered with payslip or salary sheet in view of salary to be exact on what needs to be paid. It’s unfair and unjust to just give certain amount of money as salary without the concern understanding any deductions, which some may be refundable and the concern would not be aware of it.

    Sorry, but I am not very sure on the calculations made on the revision of Nu. 250, in the article whereby the JSS official said of revision. It says 500 employees with revision of Nu. 250 translate to Nu. 185000 a month (which actually should have been 125000) or Nu. 220,000 a year (which actually should have been Nu. 15,00,000). I don’t understand how it was calculated and who calculated this.

    As ESS pointed out, security as last resort, i too feel if I had nothing to done or no source of income, my last resort would be to join either one of two as security, and yeah, step up as much as possible and enhance my career.

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