Skepticism about the Progressive Wage Model

A skeptical Ms. Ling Poh Wah wrote in to the Straits Times airing her doubts about the Progressive Wage Model for the security industry.  These are some of her arguments:

  • That the monthly basic wage of security guards rising by 37.5% is unfair to both the security guards and service buyers. This is attributed to the higher costs a customer has to fork out for the same level of service.
  • No real wage increment if security agencies move the common reimbursements for transport, laundry and meals into the basic wage.
  • Although tripartite partners are concerned about long working hours, there “hasn’t been concrete ideas to resolve this.”
  • There hasn’t been a proposal on how real productivity can be achieved through the adoption of technological innovations or redesigning workflows in the industry.
  • The current system of grading security agencies has created imbalances. A “Grade A” agency charges about $1,000 more than a “Grade C” one. Regardless of the grading, all agencies must pay the market rate to attract the right number of security guards.
  • She goes on to say that the tripartite cluster team includes only representatives of Grade A agencies, and none from the other bands – leading to unfair representation.

zainalsapari-joycefange

Zainal Bin Sapari of the NTUC had written on his Facebook page a list of rebuttals. This includes:

1. 2016 is the year PWM for Security will be made mandatory as part of a licensing condition. It will also give sufficient time for security agencies and service buyers to make the necessary adjustments in the future contracts and allow existing contracts to expire.

2. Moving reimbursements into basic wage will result in higher overtime rate and employers’ CPF contribution for the SOs. The current median gross salary is $1700/month but, with the proposed PWM, the gross salary will increase to slightly over $1900 per month.

3. STC recognised those excessive OT hours for the industry must be addressed to make the job more attractive. However, it must be done in a calibrated manner to ensure supply of SOs is enough to meet the demand. STC has given a clear time frame to indicate its intention to review OT exemption in 2017 once the supply and demand landscape of the security industry is clearer.

There are grants for SPs and SBs to utilise to encourage greater adoption of technology and change of workflow processes that will result in reduction of `warm bodies’ required. With higher cost of hiring security officers, there will be a `tipping point’ where service buyer will be more open to adopt technology.

4. PWM recommends that salary paid must commensurate with the skills, job responsibility and productivity of the security officer. SBs requiring only one security officer to do three job levels must be prepared to pay the officer the salary of the highest job level as proposed in the model.

5. The PWM is intended to create a level playing field for security agencies and service buyers when it comes to tendering and bidding for contracts.

6. STC was represented by two security associations whose members are agencies with different gratings. The associations have engaged their own members for inputs and feedbacks.

 

It is good to hear both sides of the tale – you be the judge :)

 

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Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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