- POSTED: 11 Jan 2014 20:12
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The labour movement estimates a current shortfall of some 10,000 security officers, as manpower demand continues to be fuelled by new private and commercial properties.
SINGAPORE: The labour movement estimates a current shortfall of some 10,000 security officers, as manpower demand continues to be fuelled by new private and commercial properties.
Industry players said this means it will be harder to reduce the working hours for guards, and there will be greater difficulty in attracting people into the sector.
They said this is something that has to be tackled so that progressive wages in the industry can be effectively implemented.
Security supervisor Jeffrey Chew, 50, who works at the National Museum of Singapore, has been in the line for a decade when many would have quit earlier.
Mr Chew is a beneficiary of his company's belief in the progressive wage model, where productivity and salaries rise as workers' skills are upgraded.
In three years, his monthly pay has increased from S$1,700 to S$2,500 as a result of the model, which security firms will need to adopt soon under new industry rules.
Mr Chew, a security supervisor at Reachfield Security & Safety Management, said:
"Security guards in Singapore -- they work very, very, long hours, you know.
“This is one of the very difficult parts (of the job), that's why you can see people leaving the job after a while, because they can't cope with the long hours of standing."
Mr Chew’s personal wish is to have shorter working hours in the future so he can spend more time with his family. And he believes the progressive wage scheme is a means to that end.
The Security Tripartite Council, comprising the government, employers and unionists, is looking at how jobs in the sector can be redesigned so that guards can possibly work shorter hours, and yet be paid reasonably through progressive wage.
Steve Tan, executive secretary of the Union of Security Employees, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), said: "What it means for security agencies is, I have a tool to not only help me cope with the manpower shortage, (but) it can also help me with a proper, decent career path -- attract the right number of workers who come in with the right profile, to turn the private security profession into a real career option."
Unionists said firms are becoming more receptive to progressive wage.
But there are differences of opinion in how it is supposed to be implemented, and what basic pay levels should be.
Robert Wiener, president of the Association of Certified Security Agencies, said: "(I don’t believe) that throwing money at the industry will change the industry. I believe there are a lot more components to look at, before we will be able to attract people to come into the industry."
The labour movement said over 70,000 people hold licences to operate as security officers, but less than half of them actually choose to do so, with the rest viewing the industry as a fall-back option.