SPEECH FROM MR DESMOND TAN, NTUC DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL
Ms Lorraine Lim, Deputy President of Security Association (Singapore),
Mr Melvin Yong, Assistant Secretary-General of National Trades Union Congress,
Presidents of Trade Association and Unions,
Friends and colleagues from the Security Industry,
1. Good morning. I am pleased to join you at this year’s Security Officers Day Awards ceremony. It is good to be invited back to see many familiar faces and reconnect with this important sector that ensures the safety and security of our premises and community.
Supporting our Security Industry and Officers
2. When I was in MHA, I recall fondly the efforts by the Tripartite Partners (Assoc, Govt and USE) in implementing the Security ITM, while furthering the welfare, wages, and work prospects of our Security Officers.
3. I remember visiting SAS and Twinrock in Oct 2020 when I first went to MHA and was impressed with the efforts made by Twinrock to adopt technology and upskill its officers. Through my visits to Associations and companies, I began to appreciate the challenges our officers face daily to deal with a wide range of situations and diverse people. I was then happy to support the tripartite initiative to introduce the Security Officer Anti-Abuse Decal in 2021. You might recall my Facebook post, where I called for increased public awareness about the urgent need to foster a safer environment for our dedicated security officers as they carry out their crucial duties. Furthermore, I had the utmost pleasure of introducing amendments to the Private Security Industry Act (PSIA). This significant legislation bolsters the protection of security officers, while imposing stricter penalties on those who subject them to verbal or physical abuse.
4. Towards the end of my stint in MHA, we implemented significant measures to elevate the professionalism of our security officers through the Progressive Wage Model. One significant stride we took was expanding the scope of counter-terrorism training through the mandatory "Recognise Terrorist Threats" (RTT) program, ensuring that all officers receive this essential training before their deployment at any location, starting from 1 July 2023.
5. It has been a year since I came to NTUC, we have been working closely with tripartite partners, including the Singapore Association Security (SAS), to raise industry standards and prioritize the welfare of our security officers.
6. The implementation of the Security Progressive Wage Model (PWM) has led to significant salary increases for security officers, with baseline wages set to rise over six years. By 2028, more than 50,000 officers can expect a minimum monthly wage of S$3,530.
7. To keep pace with technology advancements, the mandatory training requirements of the PWM Skills Ladder are being enhanced. New content for Basic Licensing Units (BLUs) and a compulsory course for Senior Security Officers will take effect from January 1, 2024.
8. Continuous training and upskilling are essential to ensure the sustainability of wage increments and enhanced productivity. Security officers must stay up-to-date with emerging technologies and effectively utilize them in their roles. As a recipient of the Job Redesign Award this year, Security Supervisor Sol Davis from Bulls-eye Security Services has embraced technology and updated his skillsets for an expanded job role. For example, he has immersed himself in the technological advancements within the command center, successfully transitioning from a ground staff to an operational staff member.
9. We can also learn from the example of Senior Security Supervisor Balasubramaniam A/L Saudn Rajoo, from Tiger Hong Security Services and Page Consultants who conceptualized job redesign initiatives through technology implementation at a commercial site. He successfully reduced the need for manual tasks while ensuring security standards are not compromised. He learned digital and technical skills to take on basic troubleshooting of new technology and guided and trained his fellow officers to adopt these technologies. His dedication to embracing technology and improving security operations has set a good example within the industry. These are but a few examples of exemplary officers’ present at the Awards today.
10. To ensure sustainable wage increases, job transformation is crucial. Understanding this need, NTUC introduced the Company Training Committees (CTCs) in 2019. It is intended to assist companies in implementing business transformation, job redesign, and employee training and upskilling programs. I am proud to share that over 1400 companies have already established CTCs, including more than 100 Security Agencies in the Security sector. This highlights their commitment to investing in the skills development of their workforce. It is a positive step towards creating a more productive and competitive industry.
11. To all the companies present here today, I encourage you to consider forming an NTUC Company Training Committee and take advantage of the support and programs available, such as the CTC Grant. This partnership with the Union will provide valuable resources and expertise to assist you in your transformation initiatives.
Employers with Progressive Employment Practices
12. In addition to focusing on the skills development of their workforce, I am pleased to see that employers are placing increasing emphasis on enhancing their employment practices. The introduction of the Golden Circle Best Employer Awards (GCA) by SAS is a noteworthy initiative that acknowledges employers who have successfully implemented exceptional employment practices in the industry. I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to this year's 12 award recipients. Your outstanding achievements go beyond meeting the minimum standards. Prosegur Singapore stands as an exemplary employer, taking the lead in implementing initiatives such as shorter working hours and adopting employment practices, entitlements, and benefits over and above those stipulated in the Employment Agreement and/or PWM. Your dedication to professionalism, fairness, and the well-being of your employees will undoubtedly contribute to elevating the quality of service, fostering a more skilled workforce, and enhancing the sector's reputation.
Keeping Workers Safe
13. During the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, our security officers courageously stood on the frontlines, ensuring our safety by enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols. I remember standing by one security officer who was assaulted for doing his job to remind a member of the public to wear his mask. This was when I was already in NTUC.
14. Our security officers, as first responders and frontline personnel, unfortunately, face situations of abuse or harassment. It is concerning to see an increase in such incidents during the first quarter of 2023, surpassing the monthly average from 2018 to 2022. We must prioritize the safety and well-being of our security workforce and ensure they are protected from mistreatment. I urge officers to promptly report any abuse or harassment to their supervisors or the Police.
15. I am immensely proud of the security industry's commitment to going the extra mile for our officers. The collaboration between the Security Association Singapore (SAS) and security agencies, providing legal assistance to officers who have faced abuse, sends a powerful message that such behaviour will not be tolerated. Together, we must stand united against the mistreatment of security officers, ensuring that they are respected and protected in their vital roles as first responders and frontline personnel.
16. I wish to applaud this year’s 18 award recipients of the SAS President’s Medal of Professionalism for their unwavering dedication. We can learn from the example of Senior Security Supervisor Chua Micheal and Senior Security Officer Tan Choon Bok from Securite Associates who successfully de-escalated a stressful situation after witnessing an aggressor who attempted to grab his son and wife in public. They remained calm, managed to separate the aggressor from inflicting further assault on his son until the police arrived. Thank you to our award recipients for displaying patience and restraint in the face of challenging situations, and for executing your responsibilities with professionalism and integrity.
17. At NTUC, we are dedicated to protecting and promoting the well-being of our security officers. We have consistently fought for their rights and welfare. And we do so by partnering our employers and companies to transform their businesses, redesign jobs and upskill our SO. I am confident that my brothers and sisters in USE will continue to support and partner the companies to uplift the security industry and support our SO.
18. In closing, I wish to thank SAS, USE and all employers and partners today for keeping the industry at the forefront while looking after every SO. I also thank all SO for their hard work, dedication, and professionalism to ensure our premises and our homes/ communities are safe and secure.
19. Once again, a big congratulations to all award winners today! Thank you.