SINGAPORE – The managing agent of Hillview Heights condominium has been flagged by the Security Association Singapore for discrimination against non-Mandarin speakers and older workers in its tender for security services.
In a Facebook post and statement to the press on Monday (Sept 6), the association highlighted clauses of the tender by Savills Property Management, which stipulate that a security agency must provide a “Chinese-speaking” security guard for more than six shifts each month, with those who speak dialect acceptable.
Penalties for not complying include a warning letter and deduction of $100 per shift.
The security agency could also be fined $100 if the guard provided is not within the age limit of 21 to 60 years old.
The tender, which lasts a year from Nov 1 to Oct 31 next year, closed on Sept 3.
The security association said that while there were other clauses that were of concern, it shared these particular ones “because they appear to penalise security agencies unless they exercise discrimination in their hiring and deployment of security officers”.
The statement said Mandarin and the dialects are not the same, “so what exactly is the job requirement here that Savills is looking for?”
It added: “Furthermore, for a Singapore condominium, is it a reasonable requirement for a Chinese-speaking officer to be deployed at all times? It appears that the intention is for an ethnically Chinese officer to be deployed on a frequent basis at the condominium. This would be race discrimination.”
As for the limits on age, the association pointed out that there is nothing in the tender document that indicates the basis on which the management would give or withhold its approval to deploy a guard.
“It appears there is just an intention for older workers not to be deployed at the site,” they said.
The association said it would raise the matter with the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep), as well as the Ministry of Manpower.
But it also highlighted a “gap in the law”, where “managing agents like Savills and service buyers like Hillview Heights may be able to get away with forcing service providers like security agencies to carry out discriminatory practices”.
The association said it had raised this issue with the Manpower Ministry last year and urged that its guidelines on fair employment be extended to buyers of outsourced services as well. Currently the guidelines apply only to employers.
The association’s executive director, Mr Ikhsan Suri, said in its press statement that managing agents should “properly advise their clients, the service buyers, on how to fairly, legally and correctly outsource manpower services”.
“Instead, we have seen that some managing agents encourage and empower buyers to be discriminatory. This is especially disappointing, given that many outsourced service workers are in low-wage professions and should not see any opportunities slip by them due to workplace discrimination,” he said.
“Security Association Singapore will continue to keep a look out for unfair clauses in tenders and contracts, and highlight them as needed,” he added.
During the National Day Rally last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said that Singapore will not tolerate discrimination at workplaces.
Along with enshrining Tafep’s guidelines into law, he announced the creation of a tribunal to protect workers against workplace discrimination based on nationality, age, race, religion and disability, as well as other discriminatory practices covered by the tripartite alliance.
The Straits Times has contacted Savills Property Management for comment.