SPECIAL MESSAGE FROM MR ZAQY MOHAMAD, SENIOR MINISTER OF STATE FOR MANPOWER AND DEFENCE
Our security officers play a vital role in keeping us and our properties safe. This was especially evident when COVID-19 brought on tighter precautionary measures on the movement of people island-wide, with security officers having to take on the added role of enforcing safe management measures at the frontline.
There has also been a sustained demand for manpower in the security sector. Many new buildings continue to be built and completed, and footfall has also been steadily increasing as we ease safe management measures. To attract new entrants to join the security sector and ensure that security officers have the competencies needed to perform their roles, we work closely with our tripartite partners on efforts to uplift the wages and well-being of our security officers and bring transformation to the security industry.
Progress of Security PWM
More than 40,000 security officers have benefitted from the Progressive Wage Model or PWM, which was introduced for the security sector in 2016. Tripartite partners continue to regularly review the PWM, and our friends from Security Association Singapore (SAS) as well as National Trades Union Congress, have been involved in many conversations on how we can uplift, not just the wages but also the skills and productivity, of our security officers. We have seen more Singaporeans join the security sector as wages and working conditions improve. A few years ago, we removed the exemptions to overtime working hours and therefore we have also seen working hours improve. At the same time, we have seen the employment of locals improve. For example, the employment of locals in the Security sector grew by an average of 5% per year over the last seven years, compared to 2015, which was before PWM was introduced.
Recently, the Security Tripartite Cluster (STC) charted out the wage levels for security officers up to 2028. The monthly gross wage of an entry-level security officer is expected to increase from about $2,259 in 2022 to $3,530 in 2028. This is a 56% increase in total, or 7.7% in compound annual growth rate. From September this year, we will also be extending PWM to in-house security officers, who can look forward to increased wages over time.
The tripartite partners’ overarching principle continues to be that sustainable wage increase must be in tandem with a rise in productivity. We not only want wages to rise, but we also want productivity to increase; and we can do so through the upskilling of workers, and transformation of businesses.
Our security officers undergo continuous training and upskilling so that they are equipped with relevant skills to keep pace with the adoption of new technologies. As a recipient of the Job Redesign Award this year, Senior Security Officer Jeremy Ryan from Reachfield Security and Safety Management has embraced technology with an eagerness to learn. For example, he has learnt to operate a digital visitor management system, which takes away the need for pen-and-paper record-keeping and reduces the time needed to register visitors. He also demonstrated leadership skills in guiding and encouraging new officers to adopt these technologies. This is but one example of exemplary officers present at the Awards today, and I would like to congratulate all award recipients for being outstanding security officers and role models for other officers.
Guided by the Security Industry Transformation Map, the security industry has been encouraged to innovate, transform, and deliver more productive solutions that integrate manpower, technology and processes. Some security agencies have already come on board the Career Conversion Programme for Security Officers to reskill their security officers. This allows them to contextualise training plans specific to the company’s needs and incorporate on-the-job-training such as the use of technology, in their reskilling efforts.
To meet manpower and industry challenges, security agencies can also tap on Workforce Singapore’s Security Productivity Initiative and other job redesign-related programmes to make security officer jobs easier, safer, and smarter. For example, in 2021, Soverus started to deploy robots for night patrols. Security officers were trained to assess anomalies picked up by the robots on the ground, and to manage the situation if necessary. Both security officers and employers benefitted from the job redesign. By leveraging technology, officers can reduce physical patrolling while security agencies can provide value-added services such as video recording to service buyers. These efforts help to make the PWM a sustainable model for wage increases.
Workplace Safety and Health
Another area of concern is the well-being of our private security officers while they are performing their duties. Last July, the Security Association of Singapore launched the new Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Guidelines for the Private Security Industry. The guidelines were developed together with tripartite stakeholders in the private security industry and aim to foster a culture of accident prevention at the workplace. They set out a framework for risk management to help security agencies and service buyers understand their obligations in providing a safe working environment for our private security officers.
Enhanced protection under PSIA
As frontline workers, our security officers sometimes encounter unfortunate events of abuse or harassment. We cannot emphasise enough the seriousness of harassment and abuse of security officers. The Private Security Industry Act was amended last October to provide enhanced protection for our officers and is currently in force. Under this Act, we have introduced enhanced penalties for offences by persons who harass or abuse our security officers while they are performing their duties. To us, even one case of abuse is one case too many. When these events occur, officers are encouraged to report the incident to their supervisors or the Police immediately.
Our security officers keep us safe day in day out, and deserve our support and recognition for their commitment and professionalism. I am heartened by SAS’s introduction of a new Medal for Professionalism, to show our appreciation for security personnel who continue to perform their duties with utmost professionalism even in the face of abuse. I want to commend this year’s award recipients: Security Officer Sures Perumal from Twinrock, Security Officer Neo Ah Whatt from Reachfield Security and Safety Management and Security Supervisor Pravin Manimaran from Certis CISCO Protection Services. In the face of abuse or bribery attempts by members of public, the officers remained calm and carried out their duties professionally and with integrity.
Before I end, I would also like to commend SAS for their recent efforts in highlighting contracts or agreements that are unfair towards security officers and security agencies. This is an issue that needs to be addressed together with the unions and MOM will also help where necessary. Together, we hope that we can create a fairer working environment for our security officers.
Let us continue to work together for the safety and security of Singapore. Thank you.