Security guards lose bid for Covid-19 State medical allowances

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Economy

Security guards lose bid for Covid-19 State medical allowances


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A guard stands next to a signage at the entrance of an institution in Nyeri ready to screen guests on August 6, 2020. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG

Summary

  • Security guards have lost their bid to get a share of the government’s Covid-19 medical emergency allowance fund and other benefits allocated to frontline healthcare workers such as provision of the personal protection equipments (PPEs).
  • Labour Court judge Nzioki wa Makau said though exposed to the coronavirus, they were not entitled to the Covid-19 emergency allowance.

Security guards have lost their bid to get a share of the government’s Covid-19 medical emergency allowance fund and other benefits allocated to frontline healthcare workers such as provision of the personal protection equipments (PPEs).

Labour Court judge Nzioki wa Makau said though exposed to the coronavirus, they were not entitled to the Covid-19 emergency allowance.

He also expressed fear of creating a procurement scandal, saying ordering provision of PPEs to the security guards would open a new avenue of corruption.

“In the present circumstances, it would be cumbersome to lump the government with an additional expense because as the mishandling of Covid-19 donations of PPEs has shown, as well as the rampant misuse of resources, we cannot trust the government to do right always as far as this disease is concerned,” said justice Makau.

He explained that even if he ordered the government to provide PPEs to security guards, “it would most probably not be done or would be an avenue for someone to get rich quick at expense of the people of Kenya”.

“While I have considerable sympathy for the security guards, it seems like the rest of us we are quite on our own given what transpired last year regarding donations of PPE to the government,” said justice Makau.

In their application, the security guards wanted the court to order that they be provided with health and safety materials such as protective equipments, sanitisers, gloves and masks for use at no costs.

Through the Kenya National Private Security Workers Union, they argued they deserved a share of the Covid-19 emergency allowance kitty because of the nature of their jobs.

The union’s national Secretary-General, Isaac Andabwa, told court that security workers had been given additional roles as health workers without prior training and which calls upon the Ministry of Health to consider them when planning for allowances.

But justice Makau said despite the fact that the guards play a critical role and ought to be included in the list of essential service providers much the same way lawyers were included, they do not qualify for the Covid-19 emergency allowance.

“This allowance is for those frontline health workers directly involved in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and of necessity includes those managing patients in healthcare facilities, conducting surveillance and contact tracing,” said the judge.

In opposing the application, Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said based on the eligibility criteria, the guards cannot be categorised as frontline health workers.



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