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kyeyos in iraq lose sh57b

By Vision Reporter

Added 10th January 2009 03:00 AM

UGANDAN guards in Iraq are to lose $28.8m (sh56.2b) a year following a 40% salary reduction. At least 6,000 guards will have their monthly salary reduced from $1,000 (about sh1.9m) to $600 (about sh1.2m), according to figures from the labour ministry.

UGANDAN guards in Iraq are to lose $28.8m (sh56.2b) a year following a 40% salary reduction. At least 6,000 guards will have their monthly salary reduced from $1,000 (about sh1.9m) to $600 (about sh1.2m), according to figures from the labour ministry.

BY FORTUNATE AHIMBISIBWE   

UGANDAN guards in Iraq are to lose $28.8m (sh56.2b) a year following a 40% salary reduction.

At least 6,000 guards will have their monthly salary reduced from $1,000 (about sh1.9m) to $600 (about sh1.2m), according to figures from the labour ministry.

Each of them is to lose $400 a month, translating into $28.8m (sh56.2b) for all of them annually.

The guards, mainly recruited by Dreshak Security Group, Askar Security Services and Watertight Security Services, have been forced to sign new contracts. The new terms stipulate that any recruit who demands a pay rise on arrival in Iraq shall be deported.

A labour ministry official dismissed accusations that the ministry pushed for the pay cut. Milton Turyagyenda, the commissioner for external labour, said on Wednesday the ministry approved the cut because ‘the companies gave satisfactory reasons to justify the pay cut.’

“In any business, the price is determined by demand and supply. In 2005 when the first Ugandans were recruited, not many countries were willing to allow their citizens to work in Iraq.

Currently, many other countries have allowed security companies to recruit their citizens. Moreover, there are people who are willing to work for $400 (about sh0.78m),” Turyagyenda said.

He stated that the companies informed the ministry of other countries which would provide guards if Ugandans refused $600.

“We allowed the companies to recruit Ugandans to work for $600 after reviewing this situation,” Turyagyenda said.

Some guards have recently accused the recruiting agencies of altering contracts and reducing their salaries a few months into the contract.

Dreshak which has close to 3,000 guards in Iraq, was the first company to reduce salaries in June last year. The minister of state for labour, Mwesigwa Rukutana approved the reduction at the request of Dreshak.

The recruiting agencies are paid by the main contractor although they charge some money from the recruits for medical check-up and passport fees.
Although the recruits are not taxed, their salaries are a major foreign exchange earner for the country.   

A guard currently on vacation from Baghdad said in July last year, Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group (SOC-SMG), an American security company threatened to recall anybody who refused to work for $600.

“We had signed contracts of $800 (about sh1.5m), but after four months, we were told that some Philipinos are willing to work for $300 (about sh0.58m). They said they were doing us a favour by by paying us $600,” a guard stated.

Dreshak public relations officer, Patience Atuhaire yesterday said the labour supply is overwhelming which prompted the employers to offer more jobs at lower salaries.

“There are so many people that want jobs and we were forced to reduce to $600. Those who did not want this money had a choice of not renewing their contracts,” she said.

Dreshak recruits for SOC-SMG while Askar recruits for EODT. Both US companies have tenders to provide private security services in Iraq on behalf of the US government.

Askar’s Managing Director, Kellen Kayonga, said her company was forced to recruit guards at $600 after Dreshak started recruiting for the same amount almost a year ago. She said they had written to the ministry of labour complaining about the reduced salaries.

Kayonga is currently in Iraq to explain to the guards why their salaries were reduced. “We lost business when we refused to reduce the salary to $600 because other companies were willing to recruit at this amount,” she stated.

The managing director of Watertight Security, Moses Matsiko said some firms had convinced the US employers that there are Ugandans who are willing to work for $600.

Another source at the ministry of labour said the 40% salary cut was a result of unfair competition between Ugandan companies.

“The local companies write to the US security firms indicating that they can get recruits at lower rates. If a company is recruiting guards for $800, another company writes to the employer saying they can offer the same service for $600. The US firms benefit from the Ugandan confusion,” the source said.

A source said most guards accepted the compromise because they possess forged discharge certificates from the army and the Police.

Additional reporting by
Chris Kiwawulo

kyeyos in iraq lose sh57b

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