MP Zainal: Landscape workers can be paid more with necessary training and skills

MP Zainal Sapari who is also the Chairman of Tripartite Cluster for Landscape Industry (TCL) replied to a ST Forum letter today, showing that the government has done much to help Singaporean workers in the landscape industry (‘Much being done to help those in landscape industry’, 17 Dec).

“When the Landscape Progressive Wage Model (PWM) was implemented in 2016, the minimum starting salary of an entry-level landscape maintenance worker was set to be at least $1,300,” Zainal said.

“With the necessary training and skills, landscape employees are able to take on higher job levels and be paid more.”

He said that TCL also recommended a wage range which gives companies the flexibility to pay deserving employees higher wages.

And based on the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)’s Occupational Wage Survey, the median wages of landscape maintenance workers have increased by 8 per cent annually between 2015 and 2017, he added.

TCL also recommended annual increments to all PWM base wages over a six-year period but will take effect from 2020 to “allow sufficient time for the industry to plan their budget and contract pricing”, he said.

“Under the PWM, landscape maintenance employees are expected to attain a certain level of competency through Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) training. While it may only be a proxy, it enables landscape employees to acquire the required skill sets to do their work… The public can also do its part to recognise landscape maintenance employees. A simple act of acknowledgement goes a long way.”

On NTUC website, the following is the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) announced by TCL for the landscape industry:

The more than $2,000 salary certainly looks very attractive to the Singaporean landscape workers, provided if they can get promoted to those higher positions within their landscaping company or they are given the opportunity by the company to upgrade themselves in the first place.

There is nothing to stop the bosses from hiring “foreign talents” or even their own relatives to take on those higher positions in the company, forever relegating Singaporean workers to just an ordinary low-level landscape worker even if they have gone through those WSQ trainings provided by government.

Also, MOM merely encourage employers to incorporate the principles of progressive wages into the wage structure of their foreign landscape workers. This means employers who wants to save on hiring would lean towards cheaper foreign workers.

Has MP Zainal considered this?