What landscaping tripartite cluster can do to help workers' lot

Recently, it was reported that landscaping workers will get a pay rise and bonus (Landscaping workers to get pay rise, bonus from 2020; Dec 1).

The progressive wage model was introduced in 2016 for the landscaping industry and a minimum monthly basic pay of $1,300 was recommended for entry-level workers.

There has not been much change to the basic monthly salary for an entry-level landscape worker two years after the introduction of the model. Most entry-level workers get paid between $1,300 and $1,400 depending on the business turnover of their company.

The landscape companies are reportedly finding it difficult to offer higher basic monthly wages owing to the business model of the lowest bidder securing a contract.

There are also no structural performance assessments for lower-skilled workers.

Thus, landscaping companies simply follow the recommended annual salary increments without the burden of having to provide justifiable salary adjustments for deserving employees. This is probably a major reason for the high turnover rate in the industry.

Unfortunately, this is the reality of such bidding contracts and the industry will not likely see much improvement, even as the wage boost comes into force in 2020.

There are several options that the Tripartite Cluster for Landscape Industry (TCL) could consider to help the industry evolve and bring greater benefits to the workers.

First, TCL could consider roping in service buyers to lift the overall income of landscaping workers.

The contract between landscaping companies and service buyers could include a reward system in giving bonuses to the workers if the firms' performance outcomes exceed their targets.

Second, TCL must work with the major stakeholders in the landscaping industry to ensure that the lower-skilled workers are being given a fair performance assessment by the company.

This will see companies develop a healthier relationship with their employees and possibly reduce attrition rates and operating costs.

Foo Kwang Sai

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2018, with the headline 'What landscaping tripartite cluster can do to help workers' lot'. Print Edition | Subscribe