Forum: Progressive Wage Model has made a difference for security officers, Forum News & Top Stories

We refer to Mr Vijayakumar Kassi’s letter (Challenges with Progressive Wage Model in the security sector, June 15) and Mr Liu Fook Thim’s response (Demand for security officers will dictate higher take-home pay, June 17). They both made several assertions that the Security Association Singapore (SAS) would like to clarify.

Mr Kassi said that security officers draw a monthly salary of $1,120. Most, if not all, security officers work up to 72 hours of overtime in a month. With overtime, the estimated regular gross wage of a security officer per month, including allowances, comes up to at least $2,400. This is the actual gross wage of an entry-level security officer in Singapore.

But the central question should be why officers need to work practically every day of the week to earn a reasonable wage.

We also disagree with Mr Liu’s comments on the work done by our officers, who just want to earn an honest living, as it is unfair to compare how taxing work is across totally different job functions.

The availability of senior security officer positions is not a simple matter of market demand. The Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the security sector prescribes the job functions of each grade.

A security agency which deploys a basic security officer for a function that, under the PWM, only a higher-ranking officer can perform would be breaching the PWM, and may be taken to task.

Buyers of security services have, however, been known to ask for a lower-level security officer for higher-level functions. Security agencies should not bid for such contracts, and should educate buyers about the correct way to buy security services under the PWM.

Separately, there is no evidence to bear out Mr Kassi’s assertion that work permit holders are given priority for senior PWM job roles. In fact, the majority of senior positions are held by Singaporeans.

We do not understand what Mr Kassi means when he says the PWM would be sustainable only if wage recommendations are lowered. We think PWM increases should be accelerated to deal with the fact that security officers feel the need to work such long overtime hours just to earn a reasonable wage.

Mr Kassi said the PWM’s good intentions do not resonate with the reality on the ground. But there is evidence that the PWM has resulted in significant increases in wages for security officers. From 2015 to 2019, security officers saw a 29 per cent increase in median real wages.

There is much more we must do to continue to uplift the wages and working conditions of our officers. SAS and the tripartite partners will continue to build on the PWM’s successes and continue to do right by our workers.

Ikhsan Suri

Executive Director

Security Association Singapore