Friday, 1 February 2008

Making poverty ...... history?

security van

Photo by Flickr user didbygraham. Creative Commons Licence.

The company G4S, or Group 4 Securicor, employs roughly half a million people worldwide and of these over 13,000 are in Malawi, making them the largest private sector employer in the country. On their website they have a Social Responsibility section - "our culture of giving back to the communities in which we operate". Really?


Malawi is one of the 10 poorest nations in the world and more than half the population live below the poverty line of $0.44 or roughly 25p a day. The cost of living as measured by a "Basic Needs Basket" has risen by 23% over the last year.

Pay rise = pay cut

The security guards employed by G4S work 60 hours per week and earn on average $26 or £13, a quarter of what is considered a living wage. In order to work 60 hours a week they work 12 hour days - but are paid for 10 hours under the G4S policy to reduce pay by half for overtime hours. [Source]. G4S are offering a 12% pay rise which would effectively reduce their spending power.

Living conditions

Many of the security guards live in houses without electricity or running water. They walk to work because they can't afford fares, and it could take 90 minutes each way. Their families can't afford school or medical fees for their children.


Workers planned a strike for 30 January but the company won a court injunction against it. The union hopes to overturn the ban and call a strike for 4 February if the company continues to reject their claims.

So what is it that G4S plans to give back into this particular commmunity? Deepening poverty? Exploitation is a word that comes to mind.

I am ashamed to say that the company is based in England, where the Chief Executive enjoys a comfortable salary of £1.1 million.

From NewConsumer


  1. yes! The reality of a world we thougt it could just take place at the XIX e century! Because now we should have another perception with the experiences of the past.

  2. Hi A. --

    One of the saddest/most ironic things I find with Malawi, as with neighboring Tanzania, is that the country is among the 10 poorest nations in the world without even having gone through a war. Some days, it amazes me in a good way that people can be so tolerant that they don't resort to violence in the face of such terrible exploitation, inequality, etc. On other days, I wonder whether people could be better served if they weren't so prepared to be tolerant... :S

  3. Claudie, we should, but sometimes we seem so slow to learn.
    YSTL, absolutely true. I was talking about something similar with a friend the other day. It always seems the people who make the loudest noise are the ones who get the attention, deserved or not.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin