Forum: Unions took in ground input to work out PWM

A cleaner at a mall on Oct 2, 2020.
A cleaner at a mall on Oct 2, 2020.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

We refer to Workers' Party MP Jamus Lim's comment in Parliament that union leaders use "folksy wisdom and beliefs" in referring to how we justify the progressive wage model (WP MPs and NTUC deputy chief spar over minimum wage, Oct 16).

Mr Lim has not studied the efforts unions have put in to roll out the progressive wage model (PWM) over the years.

The Union of Security Employees discussed and negotiated for the private security industry PWM from 2012 till 2014. We engaged the industry extensively, speaking to security agencies, security officers and also service buyers, not the folksy approach Mr Lim imputes to us.

The tripartite work group, comprising the union, employer associations, buyers and government representatives considered all input before setting out the PWM ladders of productivity, skills, career path and wages.

For months, the work group stood up to widespread criticism, and even anger, over even considering a wage regulation for the industry.

Some agency bosses were upset that they might be put out of business, while many buyers were upset that they had to pay more. Facing these objections required a strong sense of moral conviction that we were doing something right, certainly not the folksy naivety that Mr Lim accuses us of.

Due to the PWM, the gross wages of security officers have increased by around 12 per cent in the last two years, and this steady wage increase even surpasses recent median wage growth, and we cannot help but be offended by his accusation.

His theoretical claims suggest that he knows of better ways to help our security officers, yet his conceding in Parliament a month ago that he did not know what level of minimum wage would be appropriate for Singapore suggests a complete lack of careful consideration or study.

This is surprising, given that his party had proposed a national minimum take-home wage of $1,300 a month for full-time work, and even added that this could be pro-rated for part-time work. This begs the question of whether Mr Lim had indeed carefully studied the issue, if at all.

Raymond Chin

General Secretary

Union of Security Employees

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2020, with the headline 'Unions took in ground input to work out PWM'. Print Edition | Subscribe