Thousands of security firms, including those with government contracts, have been accused of not providing medical benefits to their employees, despite deducting millions of dollars from their salaries as part of negotiating council agreements. increase.
The issue is being investigated by the Health Care Planning Council, Financial Sector Action Office.
Unions say investigation will have impact More than 30,000 guards and about R50 million in deductions so far
In March 2021, the National Bargaining Council for the Civil Security Sector (NBCPSS) approved the sector’s health insurance benefit scheme following the signing of collective bargaining agreements with employers and unions.
The NBCPSS is registered under the Labor Relations Act and states that its primary purpose and purpose is to “regulate, maintain and enforce the terms and conditions set forth in major collective bargaining agreements”. According to the main collective agreements, registered trade unions and employers’ organizations represent employees within the security sector. “
According to the agreement, the scheme will be administered by Affinity Health and workers will pay compulsory insurance of R250 per month, half of which will be deducted from their salaries.
Benefits include chronic disease management and medication, physician visits, hospital and casualty benefits, including HIV and tuberculosis control programs.
Unions Sound Alarms and Plan Collective Action
However, according to sector unions and security guards, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, a number of companies that are part of the deal have not fulfilled some of the deals, violating the law.
The union is planning large-scale actions, including a march to the Union Building, to highlight the issue.
“Many workers are turning their backs on clinics and doctors,” said Kumburani Moyo of the Kungwini Merger Workers Union (Kawu), which is affiliated with the National Bargaining Council for Private Security Services (NBCPSS).
Frederick Mavasa, coordinator of the private security division of SA’s National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa), said at least 80% of companies were not in compliance with key collective agreements.
“Workers pay for medical care out of their monthly salaries, but are forced to use public health facilities,” Mavasa said.
“The problem of non-compliance[by security firms]is very wide and very serious,” he said.
Moyo said Kawu, one of the largest unions organized in the private security sector, has filed criminal charges against the company. He said he was planning a public demonstration in January to highlight the issue and force authorities to take action.
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“They are deducting money from our members but not transferring funds to the relevant administrators (Affinity Health). We estimate that at least 30,000 workers will be affected, and many more may be affected, with members stealing their hard-earned income. I demand that the member be refunded for this,” Moyo said.
“The Bargaining Council cannot achieve this alone without organized labor and Numsa is finalizing plans to undertake large-scale action to highlight the issue.”
A Limpopo-based security guard who has worked in the sector since 2008 and has worked for four companies said none of his previous employers had complied with the agreement and many other regulations.
“They deducted money for the UIF and the pension, but when they checked their system, they found you weren’t registered. will send you far from home and delay your pay just to irritate you,” said a man who will join his new employer in 2021.
His employer deducted R150 a month for medical benefits, he said, which only allowed him to purchase over-the-counter medications and not seek medical advice.
“It’s hard because this doesn’t include my family. When I need to see a doctor, I have to pay out of my own pocket,” he said.
Another security guard, who was fired after his employer demanded that the worker submit an employment contract, said he had not received any medical benefits since joining the sector five years ago.
He said workers were forced to come to work even when sick because they could not afford to pay doctors.
“People have very little cash, so when they get sick they are forced to come to work because if they don’t show up, they will be disciplined.”
“We can say that 90% of companies that do business with the government are not compliant. It is not easy to determine why these companies are still given [government] Business when they don’t comply,” Mavasa said.
Kawu’s Moyo said employees were affected as a result of the company’s “side job as administrator of health insurance plans.”
He said that since March 2021, companies have deducted money from workers’ salaries, but according to collective bargaining agreements, have not transferred the proceeds to Affinity Health, the sole administrator of the scheme.
Moyo said employees donated R150 from their salaries, while R100 was intended for employers to donate.
In October 2022, MT Raselo Incorporated, the law firm representing Kawu, Satawu and AWU, sent a letter to one of the companies that complained of non-compliance with their collective bargaining agreement.
According to lawyers, a company called Imvula Group operates as a healthcare service provider under the control of Kaelo Risk (Pty) Ltd. The union has accused his Kaelo, a subsidiary of retailer Dischem, of being involved in the incident.
Johannesburg-based Irvula says on its website that it “offers a number of comprehensive risk management services that enable our clients to manage their risk while they focus on their core business.” increase.
In the letter, union lawyers accused Imvula of acting illegally and violating the collective bargaining agreement.
“Imvula Group, through an entity believed to be provided by a service provider known as Kaelo Risk (Pty) Ltd, having the same registration number 2008/023485/07 (“Kaelo”), acknowledges that Dischem has a major interest as Imvula Quality Protection. has become a stakeholder. sells the provision of medical benefits to employees who are members of its clients based on the employee/member being an Imvula Quality Protection employee.
“This action on the part of Imvula is illegal and in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. With respect to the collective bargaining agreement, Kaelo Risk and Dischem are not designated service providers and cannot approach employees,” said Raselo. Part of the letter to Kaelo can be read.
“In light of the above actions by Imvula Group and Imvula Quality, we have been directed to file a complaint on behalf of our clients against them. We have been asked to investigate,” Raselo wrote.
Kaelo CEO John Jutzen said the company was not aware of the letter from Raselo.
“…We are not aware of any written communication from MT Raselo Incorporated, nor are we aware of the content contained in the alleged communication,” Jutzen said in a written response to media inquiries. mentioned in the answer.
He said Caelo was not a party to any legal proceedings relating to the subject matter of this particular investigation, and “nor is he aware of the allegations referred to and unequivocally denies any wrongdoing.”
“We do not comment specifically on contractual agreements with customers and suppliers,” Yutzen said.
Complaint received confirmed
Mr. Zongezile Baloyi, Executive Corporate Services of the Council for Medical Schemes, confirmed receipt of the complaint.
“Matters under investigation were submitted to CMS and complaints of non-compliance by exempt entities were considered in consultation with internal departments,” Baloyi said.
He did not disclose the exact details of the investigation or whether CMS is investigating other companies not mentioned in Raselo’s letter.
“We can’t say much because internal processes are still underway. At this stage, we are not in a position to make a firm statement on this,” he said, adding that a preliminary review will be issued.
The Private Security Industry Regulatory Agency (PSIRA), which is under the South African Police Department and is responsible for regulating the industry, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
The Financial Sector Conduct Authority did not respond at press time.
In its 2021/22 annual report, PSIRA’s CEO said there were 586,042 registered active security personnel and 11,540 active registered private security businesses as of the end of March last year.swollen media/DM