The Kerala Private Security Providers Association, a collective of 146 licensed security service firms, has urged the government not to allow unlicensed security agencies to operate in the State. The association wanted the government to either bring all the roughly 500 agencies under the licensing regime or get the unlicensed ones closed.
Bhaskaran Alakapuri, Kozhikode regional president of the association, said the unlicensed ones engaged in unscrupulous practices, exploited their employees and brought disrepute to the security industry. Since the licensing regime enforced certain standards and norms as well as better wages to employees, the majority of the firms were not interested in getting government licenses. He said there were 80 security firms operating in Kozhikode district, but only 15 possessed the government licence. Mr. Bhaskaran said the demand for security services, mainly for guarding homes and businesses, is on the rise, but shortage of manpower is a hindrance to the expansion of the industry.
He claimed the licensed firms paid the government-fixed minimum wages of ₹11,600 a month for an eight-hour workday. However, standard working hours in the industry were 12 hours a day and hence the guards were getting extra wages. But, unauthorised firms, which provided service at a lower price than the authorised ones, were paying far lower wages than the latter.
Mr. Bhaskaran pointed out that the licensed firms hired only those who were physically fit, under age 55 and those who have studied upto Class X. The firms provided basic training. Before hiring, background checking was mandatory. However, young men in Kerala were not very enthusiastic about taking up security guards’ job and hence there was always a shortage of manpower.