2 in 5 security officers abused on the job, with figures rising due to Covid-19: Survey

The respondents said the most common source of abuse was from the general public, followed by visitors and residents. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Security officers here say it has become increasingly common for them to be subjected to some form of abuse, with the Covid-19 pandemic being blamed for increased tensions.

A survey of 1,002 officers, conducted between September and November last year, found that two in five security officers were exposed to some form of abuse in their course of work.

A previous survey of 707 officers released in June last year found that about one in three was abused on the job.

Commenting on the results released on Thursday (March 25), Union of Security Employees (USE) executive secretary Steve Tan said that the officers were most commonly subjected to verbal abuse.

This was in part because of the need for additional security checks in the light of safe measurement measures introduced amid the pandemic.

"Visitors to various properties were asked to comply with safe management measures, and the person asking them to do it was the security officer," said Mr Tan.

He added that officers were also under pressure from clients to ensure that the safe management rules were followed.

"What is very clear is that Covid-19 has increased the tensions at the site," said Mr Tan.

USE and the Singapore University of Social Sciences conducted the two surveys to understand the working conditions, well-being and salary issues of security officers.

USE, which is an affiliate of the National Trades Union Congress, has 18,158 members.

In the latest study, 37.2 per cent of respondents indicated that they were verbally abused, and 4.8 per cent said they were both verbally and physically abused.

"This all the more proves that officers need to be protected," said Mr Tan.

He also referred to the Ministry of Home Affairs statement in March last year, which indicated the Private Security Industry Act may be amended this year to better protect security officers from harassment or abuse.

(From left) Research associate, SUSS, Toh Chin Seng, associate professor, SUSS, Leong Chan-Hoong, Gen-sec, Union of Security Employees, Raymond Chin and executive secretary, Union of Security Employees, Steve Tan. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

USE general secretary Raymond Chin said: "The Union of Security Employees is very concerned with the increase in abuse of our security officers. We urge members of the public to respect our officers as they are merely carrying out their tasks as prescribed by law."

For the survey, security officers were approached at USE while collecting their security officer identity cards, which are issued after they renew their licence every five years.

The respondents said the most common source of abuse was from the general public, followed by visitors and residents.

To help combat such incidents, USE will launch an app for officers to report abuse and work-related grievances to its mediation service. This will be done by the third quarter of this year.

It is in line with survey findings which showed that 85 per cent of security officers were well-versed in the use of technology at their workplace.

USE aims to make the app accessible for the 50,000 active security officers across the industry.

But there was also an upside in the survey. Eight out of 10 security officers said they were satisfied with their job, and two-thirds said they were confident they will not lose their job.

The distribution of the officers' pay remained largely consistent compared with six months ago, with the median wage of all ranks measuring above the Progressive Wage Model (PWM).

Under the PWM, the lowest-ranking security officer must be paid a basic wage of at least $1,250 in 2020, while those in the next rank of senior security officer must be paid at least $1,420.

A senior security supervisor must be paid at least $1,820.

The PWM came into effect in September 2016, and is a licensing requirement for all security agencies. It covers all Singapore citizens and permanent residents.

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