Most of us Singaporeans are always on the go -we spend long hours at work and school before squeezing in a few hours to spend time with loved ones. Most of us are so wrapped up in our own busy lives that we tend to forget about those who make our lives so much easier.
Here are 4 jobs that are vital to Singapore (and to us Singaporeans), but aren’t getting the appreciation that they deserve!
1. Bus Captains
Let’s be honest, we often take bus captains for granted. Think about it: when was the last time you thanked your friendly bus uncle? We might even assume that their job is easy, being that they just need to drive on the same routes day in and out.
Well, it isn’t at all.
Bus captains work long hours – they’re on the clock weekdays, weekends, public holidays rain or shine. Most importantly, they’re in charge of keeping thousands of commuters safe.
Bus captains are even faced with potentially violent situations, such as the three SBS Transit bus captains who were assaulted on New Year’s Eve. While these accidents are far and few in between, they do still occur to local bus captains who are just trying to make a living.
So what are we doing to ensure that our bus captains are getting more recognition?
The National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU) has been busy meeting the 4 public bus operators to ensure bus captains get better pay, career progression and benefits.
NTWU was deeply involved in helping bus captains transit to Tower Transit, a newcomer in the Singapore public bus industry:
NTWU negotiated with Go-Ahead to keep their compensation package competitive:
The union also got SBS Transit to increase its gross monthly pay by more than 15%, with sign on bonus of $3,000 for Singaporeans and PRs:
And convinced SMRT to match the employment packages offered by the other public transport operators.
Bus drivers get to choose from other enhanced benefits such as a flexible benefits scheme, an increased number of annual leave and even maternity leave longer than what civil servants get. SBS Transit has also adopted a Progressive Wage Model where bus captains can rise to higher positions, namely to chief bus captains, and executive and managerial roles.
TL;DR: Bus captains are an integral part of our daily lives. Thanks to the union, bus captains from all 4 public bus operators enjoy better careers and pay.
2. Security Officers
They’re in every other public building in Singapore.
They’re in malls, office buildings and even private estates. They seem to blend seamlessly into the background, and most of the time we barely notice them. But contrary to popular belief, being a security officer isn’t as easy of a job as we think.
For one thing, security is the number one industry when it comes to working overtime, like an extra 95 hours a month! The security sector has the highest average weekly overtime per worker, according to the Security Tripartite Cluster (STC) which aims to help security officers get better jobs and pay via the security Progressive Wage Model (PWM).
Despite the long hours and the (usually) dangerous situations they face, security officers still remain a mainstay in the low-wage industry.
In 2016, firms had until Sept 1 to implement the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) requirements set for the security industry. Firms also had to ensure that their security officers completed the required training under the Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications framework for Security.
The PWM has been set to not only address the manpower shortage in the industry (due to high turnover), but it’s also a stepping stone to attracting younger workers and retaining existing security officers.
The next step is convincing buyers of security contracts to use security assessments so they know what kind of security they need, instead of making security officers work long hours just to show face.
TL;DR: The Progressive Wage Model helps security officers get proper training, a career path and higher pay. But the industry still suffers from cheap-sourcing and poor understanding of security assessments.
3. Construction Workers
One of the reasons as to why Singapore is a booming metropolitan city is partly due to our infrastructure. Our streets, buildings and homes are paved and assembled by construction workers – most of whom have left their hometowns and come here to earn a living.
Construction workers face a slew of issues that affect their mental and physical health. Not being paid their wages, long working hours and physical injuries are just a few issues faced by construction workers.
According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), in June 2016, 326,700 work permits were given to construction workers. This does not include illegal construction workers from China, Bangladesh and India.
As of 2017, there is no prescribed minimum wage for foreign workers across industries, and this includes construction. In Singapore, wages for foreign workers are determined by market demand and supply for labour.
In Singapore, the Workplace Safety and Health Council (WSHC) ensures that workers across several industries are working in safe environments. WSHC carries out training and safety awareness campaigns for workers and employers, as well as conduct regular workplace safety inspections.
video source: Yahoo
Organizations like Migrant Workers’ Centre focus on helping out migrant workers. From providing workplace advice, temporary lodging and free meals, to offering a listening ear, MWC is helping migrant workers survive the ordeals of errant employers and other unfortunate conditions while working in Singapore.
TL;DR: Construction workers face a variety of issues that come with working in Singapore. Organizations such as MWC ensure that migrant workers receive the aid they need.
Singapore is known around the globe as a clean and green city. Our streets and public buildings are squeaky clean, and it’s hard to find a filthy mall or street full of trash in Singapore.
While we pride ourselves on being one of the cleanest countries in the world, the truth is that all the recognition should be going to the cleaners who work tirelessly to ensure Singapore is clean 24/7.
But how much do cleaners earn?
In June 2015, the median monthly basic wages of full-time resident cleaners was $1,100.
Recently, the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC) gave three recommendations to improve cleaners’ wages.
The TCC recommended that from 2017 to 2022, wage adjustments and increases, as well as annual bonuses should be enjoyed by those employed in the cleaning industry.
Cleaners can expect a total boost of $200 to their wages from 2017 to 2020. Since annual bonuses currently aren’t mandatory for cleaners, it’s a relief to know that from 2020, cleaners can expect to see a 3% increase in their wages every year till 2022, as well as an annual bonus (equivalent of 2 weeks of wages).
TCC’s recommendations are a win-win situation for all parties. Businesses will be able to attract and retain quality workers, and service buyers will also benefit from a more reliable and better-quality cleaning services.
Most importantly, the TCC recommendations are increasing the income levels of cleanerswho have been surviving on low incomes for far too long due to cheap-sourcing.
TL;DR: Cleaners will see an increase in their wages from 2017 to 2022, but what happens after 2022? Will their wages still be held ransom to cheap-sourcing?
What’s The Future Like For These Essential Jobs?
The Progressive Wage Model put forward by the Labour Movement has been an important stepping-stone for those employed in the low-wage industries to get basic wages and better-defined career paths.
However, cheap-sourcing will continue to depress wages and limit their careers, workplace benefits and may even lead to more workplace mishaps.
On 5th Jan 2017, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Zainal Sapari called for an update to the Government Procurement Act.
The Labour Movement will be pushing for two main updates – mainly the Principle of Proportionality (which means clients cannot slap exorbitant fines on service providers), and the addressing of one-sided contracts which put service providers and their staff at huge disadvantages (think unlimited changes)
If the government sets the benchmark in best-sourcing for quality, reliable service providers with fair contracts that allow outsourced staff to have better jobs and pay, perhaps the rest of Singapore will follow the government’s example.
Outsourced workers will benefit from contracts that are fairer, and in the long run, increase the wages they will be receiving.
So the next time you meet these workers, remember the struggles they go through, and what you can do to help them, even if it’s a kind word, act or learning more about their jobs.