Asking the boss isn’t much of an option


Jul 27, 2011
Asking the boss isn’t much of an option
THE Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) reply last Thursday (“Talk to bosses on alternative work arrangements, ministry advises”) to Mrs Joanna Han’s letter (“Why seniors end up as security guards”; July 16) advised employees who are seeking alternative work arrangements to speak to their employers.

If a security guard like Mrs Han’s mother speaks to her employer about working fewer hours than her current 12 a day, the likely outcome is that she would lose her job. How realistic is it for anyone to heed such advice?

The ministry’s reply also cites how MOM and industry partners such as the Security Industry Regulatory Department of the Singapore Police Force, the Union of Security Employees and industry associations continually seek ways to improve work processes in the security industry by leveraging on technology to make the job more age-friendly.

The reply went on to state that MOM also promotes the adoption of good workplace practices, like different shift work patterns (including eight-hour shifts, part-time schemes and shorter work weeks) to suit the needs of security officers; and that several security agencies have already introduced shorter shift arrangements.

My question is, what percentage of security guards are fortunate enough to have enjoyed such improved work conditions.

The prevailing view is that a 12-hour daily shift still predominates in the security industry.

Mrs Han’s question as to why her 69-year-old mother must work 12 hours every night (72 hours a week) for less than $1,500 a month remains unresolved.

Her pay works out to an hourly rate of only $5, assuming that the pay of $1,450 is divided by 24 working days, and by 12 hours.

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.