MEC drops 173 security guards

A TOTAL of 173 Cape Town provincial government security officers are up in arms after community safety MEC Lennit Max failed to renew their contracts.

The security guards have been replaced by a private company.

The security officers, who earn R450 a month guarding various provincial government buildings around Cape Town, received a letter this week that said: "Please note that your contract expires on 28 February 2010. Thank you for your dedication during your employment."

Angry security officer Mfusi Zonke asked Sowetan why the Democratic Alliance provincial government was axing people in the middle of a recession.

"I believe we have been used like condoms. After the mission is completed we are seen as valueless," Zonke said.

He said the security officers were victims of continual political changes in Western Cape, where the provincial government has changed hands between the ANC and DA several times.

"The DA is now coming with its own way of operating, which is to privatise everything. We are looking at a seriously negative impact on more than 1000 family members."

Zonke said the officers called on Max to withdraw his decision. But Max told Sowetan that he would not change his mind and that the work would be outsourced to a private security company.

"It is not even a political decision. The decision by the previous ANC MEC Patrick McKenzie not to allow security companies cost government R4million more."

Max said he was in the same boat as the soon-to-be jobless security officers.

"If you are on a contract there is obviously no expectation that your contract will be renewed," he said. "In five years' time if the people don't vote me in again I will also be out of a job and then my family will also suffer."

National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union provincial secretary Suraya Jawodeen said "Max's argument was totally unacceptable.

"We are opposed to outsourcing," Jawodeen said. "It is a problem that they keep people on contract forever and then terminate the contracts when people have become hopeful of staying on permanently."

Jawodeen said the new private companies would pay very poor salaries to their guards and service would suffer as a result.

Max said he did not want to enter into a discussion on the salaries paid by private security companies.