SINGAPORE - A union representing security guards and two associations of security agencies have teamed up to form an industry council, in a move that goes against common practice.
Such committees, set up under the umbrella of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) to improve the lot of workers in an industry, are often tripartite consisting of employers, unionists and government officials.
The new Security Industry Council, however, is made up of the Union of Security Employees, an NTUC affiliate, and two associations: the Association of Certified Security Agencies (ACSA) and the Security Association Singapore (SAS).
The trio announced its formation on Thursday (July 13) at the NTUC headquarters.
They signed a memorandum of understanding pledging to work together to boost productivity and improve the image of the sector, as well as fight for higher pay and better working conditions for security guards.
They also said they will cooperate to collectively represent the interests of security agencies and draw up a system to resolve differences between the two associations.
The council can play a role in educating those who buy security services on how they can with with security agencies to raise productivity through the use of technology or improving building designs, said labour chief Chan Chun Sing, who witnessed the MOU signing. "This ultimately means better careers and better salaries for workers in the industry," said Mr Chan, who is NTUC secretary-general.
Mr Robert Wiener, ACSA president, said the new council will play a "pivotal role" in engaging the industry's stakeholders and create "an amicable and amenable environment" to tackle issues.
Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, SAS president, called it a "significant initiative" that will coordinate the work of players in the sector.
An industry source, however, said the council was set up to help the two rival associations sort out their differences so that they do not take their rivalry to the Security Tripartite Cluster (STC), which is the highest body representing the security sector.
The two associations do not have a strong history of cooperation, the source added.
Confirming this, Mr Wiener said: "SAS and ACSA have never actually sat at the (same) desk and said 'we are good friends and we want to lead the industry'. Today we have done that. That is a very, very big move."
The STC, chaired by the NTUC and Singapore National Employers Federation, has 18 members, including representatives from the Manpower and Home Affairs ministries, Singapore Police Force and private-sector companies that buy security services.
The new council follows several initiatives introduced in the past few years by the Government and NTUC to raise salaries and improve working conditions in the sector.
Since last September, a compulsory wage ladder for security guards was implemented, with newcomers paid at least $1,100 a month.
The monthly salary of those with one-year working experience is $1,300 while that of security supervisors is $1,500.