30% basic pay bump for 3,000 landscape workers under new compulsory wage ladder

SINGAPORE - Some 3,000 local landscape workers will get a pay bump next year when it becomes compulsory for registered landscaping companies to implement a progressive wage model, the labour movement announced on Friday.

The model, which links pay hikes to training, recommends a starting pay of $1,300 for full-time resident landscape maintenance workers, up from the current median basic wage which has remained around $1,000 since 2009. It was laid out by the Tripartite Cluster for Landscape Industry (TCL) after a year of deliberation.

Under the wage ladder, there are four stages of progression from landscape worker to landscape supervisor, with specific Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification modules and duties recommended for each level. Supervisors should earn at least $2,100.

The National Parks Board will make adopting the model a requirement for companies applying for and renewing a listing on the Landscape Company Register from June next year. Around 300 companies are currently on register. From next June, this will allow them to bid for Government contracts.

TCL chairman Zainal Sapari, who is an assistant secretary-general of the National Trades Union Congress, said that despite its importance in maintaining Singapore's "garden city" image, the landscape industry struggles with unattractive working conditions and depressed wages due to companies bidding for contracts based on lowest prices.

"We hope that with this model we will be able to motivate workers and ensure that what we pay them is commensurate with their skills," he said at the launch event at Gardens By The Bay.

The landscape industry is the last of the three predominantly outsourced and low-wage industries that the Government agreed to mandate higher wages in. The wage ladder for the cleaners took effect last September and that for security guards will take effect next September.