Security guards’ stats – something for Desmond Choo to ponder over

I refer to the article “’I understand how the poor feel‘” (Today, Mar 22).

It states that:

“his (MP-hopeful Desmond Choo) father is working as a security officer and would tell him of problems in the industry, such as the difficulties of working a 12-hour shift. Mr Choo, who is also the executive secretary of the Union of Security Employees, pledged yesterday that he will help those in the security industry to “get more out of their work””.

Earnings increase?

Desmond Choo

According to the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) Labour Market 2010 report released this month, the industry category which had the lowest increase in real earnings in 2010, was Services – Business Services, at – 5.0 per cent, with Services – Transport & Storage in second place from the bottom, at– 1.8 per cent.

Are security guards (security services) under the category of Services – Business Services?

According to the MOM’s Job Vacancies 2010 and 2009 reports, the gross wages of private security officers at the 25th percentile, fell from $1,150 in 2009 to $1,100 in 2010.

This was in spite of the record GDP growth of 14.5 per cent last year, and numerous media reports that the jobs market was very buoyant and wages was rising in line with inflation which hit 5.5 per cent in January..

Nobody wants the job?

Private security officers also had the highest vacancy at 2,180 among all job categories, and was joint highest, at 65 per cent, for vacancies unfilled for at least six months.

Many people have said in internet blogs that the most readily available jobs are security guards.

This seems to be supported by the statistics that this job category had the highest vacancies.

But, what may be puzzling is why many people do not seem to want the job, as indicated by this job category having the highest unfilled vacancies for at least six months?

Long hours?

In this regard, I spoke to some security guards, and was told that generally they work between 48 to over 50 hours a week, with one day off.

If overtime is included, the typical work week is between over 50 to as much as 70 hours.

Such long hours for such low wages!

In this connection, according to the 2010 Census report, 579,884 or about 31 per cent of local workers worked at least 50 hours a week (228,856 worked between 50 – 54 hours, 73,761 between 55 – 59 hours, 134,716 between 60 –64 hours, and 142,551 65 hours and over).

How many of these are security guards?

As I understand that generally, security guards do not earn more than $1,700 a month, inclusive of overtime, meal, transport and laundry allowances, how many of the age 35 and above Singaporeans receiving Workfare because they are defined as older low-income workers, are security guards?

By the way, my classmate from Raffles Institution became a security guard, when he was retrenched in his 50s.

So, in the light of the above statistics, what has the Union of Security Employees done to improve the working conditions of security guards in the last few years?

Perhaps when its executive secretary is elected, more can be done for security guards, as they would have a voice in Parliament.

Maybe all the security guards who live in Hougang, will vote for him.