The ubiquitous security guard fraternity in the city is facing a crisis as most offices, housing complexes and commercial establishments have reduced their numbers as a cost-cutting measure to cope with the economic slump triggered by the pandemic. In Dwarakanagar area alone, more than a dozen big and small companies have halved the number of guards they used to hire as most have not reopened and employees are working from home.
P Santosh lost his job as a guard a few days back. Santosh, a resident of PM Palem, said he used to work double shifts on most days and would take home a salary of Rs 12,000 for guarding a Commercial complex in near Dimond park area. “I was suddenly told by my agency that I did not need to go to work. They also stopped paying me and told me that the company where I was posted has stopped hiring guards. I have nothing to do now and have a family of four to feed,” said Santosh.
G Shanti of one town area, who used to work as a guard in a Srinivasa Mansions in Seethammadhara lost her job. So did her husband, who used to work as a driver. “His employer asked him to stop driving his car a few days into the lockdown. I don’t know how we will survive. My husband is now selling vegetables from a cart,”
Most establishments and housing complex had reduced the number of security personal by up to 50 per cent in the city. According to P Naga Bhusan, who runs a private security placement agency, said the industry has never been “hit so bad” in recent memory. This despite the guards being on the frontline in the Covid battle – guards are playing the role of hygiene monitors, checking the body temperature of the people entering buildings or complexes with thermal scanners, and ensuring they are wearing masks and sanitising their hands. “People are not only terminating contracts (with security agencies), some are refusing to pay up citing lack of business during the lockdown. We need help from the government to ensure the families of guards at least have food on their tables. Stating further, he would request all companies to have a humanitarian approach. “We will request the companies to try and save their jobs and look around for ways where they can be employed otherwise,” said Nagabhusan.
An official of international BPO processing centre in Siripuram said he had asked the security agency they are in contract with to deploy fewer guards at his office. “As most of our employees are working from home… we don’t need as many guards as before at the office. There are now only 10 guards, earlier there would be around a 20,” he said. According to him, the company’s board was forced to take the decision as revenue generation was low and no new projects has landed up.