'Revamp security firm contracts'

Restructuring would spur these companies to boost training for guards: Labour chief

Labour chief Chan Chun Sing has urged companies to revamp their contracts with security providers to encourage them to improve how they train their guards.

Speaking at a seminar on Thursday, organised by security firm Certis Cisco and the Union of Security Employees, he said this would tie in with the Progressive Wage Model that will be made compulsory for the sector by September next year.

Under the wage ladder, the minimum monthly basic wage of security guards will rise to $1,100 from $900. They can also be systematically trained to become supervisors, earning at least $1,500 in monthly basic pay. But Mr Chan said it would be pointless for unions to push for training unless guards are equipped with technology such as surveillance cameras. "A worker would think: 'Why are you asking me to go for training when I will be doing the same thing tomorrow?'"

He suggested that a more forward-thinking contract for security vendors could include conditions such as zero security breaches, higher wages for workers and a commitment to adopt technology.

Using NTUC Club as an example of how contracts could be improved, Mr Chan said the leisure arm of the labour movement has been awarding contracts to the same vendor for laundry services for the past eight years through an annual tender process. Had it offered three three-year contracts instead, vendors could have been motivated to invest in a longer-term relationship.

"If every contract is a one-year contract, would there be any incentive for any service provider to invest in better machines or different methods of working?"

For its part, the labour movement can show private firms and public agencies how restructuring contracts can help them save money and increase productivity in the long term. He said: "We are not asking for people to pity our workers (by increasing their wages), but it's for (the firms') own good."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline ''Revamp security firm contracts''. Print Edition | Subscribe