Wage plan for security guards to be drawn up as early as October

A security guard on patrol at Nex shopping mall on Dec 5, 2012. Security guards can look forward to a possible increase of at least $300 in basic monthly pay from as early as October. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
A security guard on patrol at Nex shopping mall on Dec 5, 2012. Security guards can look forward to a possible increase of at least $300 in basic monthly pay from as early as October. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Pay may rise by at least $300, but firms say they need time to adjust

Security guards can look forward to a possible increase of at least $300 in basic monthly pay from as early as October.

That is when a committee of government officials, union leaders and security firms is expected to draw up a wage ladder for guards after completing a review of salaries and working conditions in the sector.

Once the wage ladder is ready, the Government will make it a compulsory part of licensing conditions for security companies, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari told a union event yesterday.

He warned security firms: "If you do not pay your security officers salary based on the progressive wage model, then your licence won't be renewed."

Mr Zainal, who is also a member of the NTUC-led committee and an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, declined to give details of the wage ladder, saying: "It is still not finalised."

But he confirmed that the committee is looking at raising the basic monthly pay of guards from $800 to $1,100, a figure first reported by The Straits Times three weeks ago.

The higher minimum monthly wage will raise the salary of guards to more than $2,000 a month with overtime, up from about $1,600 now. The bulk of guards' pay comes from overtime work. They typically work 12 hours a day for six days a week.

The latest push comes nearly a year after a similar move by NTUC to raise the pay of security guards was rebuffed by the Security Association of Singapore (SAS) - mainly due to concerns about rising wage costs.

There are about 70,000 licensed security guards in Singapore. But the low basic pay and long hours have kept about 30,000 of them away from work, adding to the manpower crunch in the sector. Besides raising basic salary, Mr Zainal said the committee is also looking into cutting overtime work and attracting mid-career workers to switch to the sector.

The Association of Certified Security Agencies backed the NTUC's move, but said that firms will need time to adjust to the new wage ladder.

"We need at least two years," said association vice-president Weers Terry, who is the operations director at security firm P&P Security Services.

SAS president T. Mogan was resigned to the changes, saying: "Firms have to weigh (the changes) and adjust their costs accordingly."

Mr Gary Haris, senior business development director of KH Security Agency, said the new model could see labour costs go up by as much as 30 per cent, adding: "It still depends on whether clients are willing to pay more for security services."

Security guard Ng Chye Hock, 66, who earns less than $1,600 a month now, said: "Having a few hundred dollars more will make my finances less tight. I hope it comes soon."

tohyc@sph.com.sg