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Major victory for Singapore unions in lift and escalator sector

4 August, 2021Singapore unions have gained a major victory by achieving a substantial wage increase and annual bonus for 1,300 lift and escalator workers through tripartite negotiations.

The negotiations were conducted through the Tripartite Cluster for Lift & Escalator Industry (TCLE), an initiative of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC). The TCLE was formed in 2020 with the Metal Industries Workers' Union (MIWU), United Workers of Electronic and Electrical Industries (UWEEI), Singapore Lift & Escalator Contractors & Manufacturers Association, service buyers and managing agents, town councils and government agencies as members.

The tripartite committee assessed various challenges confronting the industry, for example the fact that half of the workforce are more than 50 years old and young workers are shunning the industry due to long working hours and an unconducive work environment and wage stagnation as a result of competitive outsourcing contract price.

The Singaporean government accepted the TCLE recommendations on a progressive wage model (PWM) for lift and escalator workers, which will substantially increase the baseline wage of an assistant specialist from SGD 1,480 (US$1,097) in 2021 to SGD 1,850 (US$1,371) in 2022, and will gradually increase to SGD3,080 (US$2,283) by 2028.

According to the ministry, a mandatory annual bonus will be introduced from January 2023. The PWM will be made a compulsory requirement for lift and escalator maintenance companies registering with the Building and Construction Authority next year.

Tong Dickson, an executive council member of MIWU, says:

“The latest PWM review will see more lift and escalator maintenance workers earning progressive wages that commensurate with their skill sets. The key to this is ensuring that our workers take up relevant training so that they can move up the career ladder.”

Dickson and Nadesen

Tamil Maran Nadesen, executive council member of UWEEI, says:

"The PWM will be helpful in attracting more local talent by developing their confidence in the sector. The new baseline wage has enhanced the prospects of L&E occupations by promoting greater wage security and job progression, and challenging employees to develop themselves professionally through skills upgrading."

The union members work at Hitachi Elevator Asia, Fujitec Singapore, and other lift and escalator companies. Common brands that are being used in Singapore include OTIS, Mitsubishi Electric, Schindler, KONE, Thyssenkrupp (TK).

Annie Adviento, IndustriALL South East Asia regional secretary, says:

“I congratulate the big success achieved by our affiliates MIWU and UWEEI. The labour movement in Singapore have been playing a vital role in protecting the rights and benefits of low-wage workers through effective tripartite mechanism.”

Main photo credit: NTUC Singapore