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FIELD TRIP Brian and Dave with the G4S team in Lilongwe.

Life is tough in Malawi, where wages can be as low as £4 per week. GMB members Brian Terry and Dave Gigg went there to meet their fellow workers at G4S and see the vital work being done by unions


n 2007, GMB went to Malawi to meet workers at G4S, the global security firm. Our members met workers who were proud and dedicated, despite living

and working in some shocking conditions. We work for G4S in the UK, and this March they gave us paid release to return to Lilongwe, the capital and largest city of Malawi, to see how much things had changed in five years.

During our stay, we visited three G4S

of ices and a training school, and got the chance to address and speak with some 350 members of the TGLSSWU, the union recognised by G4S in Malawi. Unfortunately, what we found was that conditions had barely changed since 2007. Where they had, it was, more often than not, for the worse.

The men and women we met were mainly employed as static guards in and around Lilongwe. Their wages are poor – ranging from £4.38 to £8.30 for a 72-hour week. Though guards of icially do six 12-hour shifts per week, these only start when they return from parading in front of their


HARD TIMES Life has got harder for this worker during his 20 years’ service.


supervisor, who may be based up to half-an-hour from their workplace. Along with the walk to and from

home, this can make a working day last 15 or 16 hours.

We attended some of these parades, in

public car parks or at roadsides, with as many as 100 guards being drilled. No regard was given to the elements, and we were told that guards often arrive at their place of work soaked to the skin and unable to change into anything dry before they began their shift. When workers do need to get changed,


they do so at the side of the road or in a shop doorway. Their uniforms are often worn out and dirty, which clearly embarrasses them. They explaining it is not due to neglect, but because they are not given spares. All the guards complain about the shortage of boots and shoes and it is not uncommon to see them having to wear flip-flops.

Nearly all the workers we met live on, or way below, the poverty line. G4S may be the best of a bad bunch when it comes to wages, but it is still very hard for workers to support their families. A bag of maize costs roughly one


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