In 2020, Singapore generated 5.88 million tonnes of solid waste, which highlights the importance of waste disposal services. Currently, there are up to 3,000 waste collection workers today. According to job portal, Indeed, the average basic monthly wage of these workers is around $1,800.
Starting from 1st July 2023, the monthly basic salary for entry-level waste collection workers will increase by $210 each year until 2028, under the Progressive Wage Model (PWM). By 2028, their basic wages will increase to $3,260.
This improvement comes after the Government accepted the recommendations by the Tripartite Cluster for Waste Management (TCWM). The new PWM addresses several challenges within the waste management industry such as operational and manpower issues, and low basic wages. The job is usually seen as unglamourous with very few locals willing to work in the industry by the nature of the work. With the PWM introduced, the government and TCWM hopes that it will transform and uplift the professionalism and image of the industry.
What Is The Progressive Wage Model?
The Progressive Wage Model (PWM) is newly implemented for the waste management sector. It joins existing PWMs implemented for the cleaning, security and landscaping sectors. Through skills upgrading, career advancement and productivity improvements, the PWM enables waste collection workers to achieve sustainable real wage increment.
Under the PWM, workers will see their gross wages increase by a fixed amount of $210 annually. For workers who are keen to progress in the sector, they will be given the opportunity to upgrade their skills with Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) modules to meet the requirements of higher job rung roles. With the waste management industry, there are two pathways that workers can progress: the Waste Collection sub-sector or the Materials Recovery sub-sector.
Waste Collection Workers Will Receive An Annual Increment Of $210 From 2023 To 2028
Today, an entry-level waste collection worker earns a basic wage around $1,800, according to Indeed’s job data.
Under the new PWM, the different job levels in the waste management sector will receive an fixed annual increment (set at $210) every year from 2023 to 2028.
This means a supervisor earning $2,860 in 2023 will earn $3,070, and the amount will climb to $3,910 when it reaches 2028. And if the supervisor gets promoted to senior driver in 2024, he/she will earn the base wage of $3,120.
Source: Ministry of Manpower
While the wage ladder and schedule of sustained wage increases as illustrated above, it is not set in stone and would be reviewed in 2025.
Assuming a worker joins the sector as a new crew, starting from 2023, he will start earning a base wage of $2,210 under the PWM and his salary will continue to increase $210 every year until it reaches $3,260 in 2028. That’s 48% increment in their basic wage from 2023, or almost double from what they’re earning today.
Source: Ministry of Manpower
On top of annual salary increments, these workers will also receive mandatory 1-month annual bonus starting January 2024. The annual bonus will be given regardless of their work performance and as long as they have been working with their employer for at least one year.
They will also receive a stipulated minimum hourly overtime rate of 1.5x the basic rate. For example, for a crew whose baseline wage is $2,210 in 2023, the overtime rate of pay would be at least $16.60.
Skills Upgrading Is Essential For Sustained Wage Increments
To complement the wage increment, workers in the waste management sector are also expected to upgrade their skills, advance in their careers and increase their productivity. To enable skills upgrading, the Workforce Singapore (WSG), National Environment Agency (NEA) and Waste Management and Recycling Association of Singapore (WMRAS), have come together to develop a Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Framework for the waste management and recycling industry.
The Waste Management and Recycling WSQ is a competency-based training, and assessment system validated by industry players and regulators. The Framework provides a structured training and skills upgrading system in Waste Handling and Transportation, Waste Processing and Recycling, and Waste Disposal and Control.
To become a General Waste Collector, one would have to be licensed by NEA to handle certain types of waste. All waste collection drivers and crews, and operators must be WSQ certified according to the levels – A, B, and C.
|Class of License||Type of Waste||Type of Vehicle or Equipment|
|Class A||Type A (Inorganic Waste)
Examples: construction debris, excavated earth, tree trunks, discarded furniture, appliances, wooden crates, pallets, and other bulky items destined for disposal.
Recyclables that have been deposited in any receptacle
provided in any residential property for the purpose of recycling of the Act.
|Skip container and prime movers, lorries with cranes, pick-ups, lorries with tipper.
Waste must be properly covered.
|Class B||Type B (Organic Waste)
Examples: Food and putrefiable waste from domestic, trade and industrial premises, markets and food centres.
|Roll-off compactors and prime movers; refuse compaction vehicles.|
|Class C||Type C (Sludge and grease)
Examples: Sludge from water treatment plants, grease interceptors, water-seal latrines, sewage treatment plants, septic tanks or other types of sewerage systems, waste from sanitary conveniences in ships and aircraft.
In order to meet NEA’s General Waste Collector and General Waste Disposal Facilities licensing conditions, waste management workers of all waste management companies would have to attain the mandatory training requirements based on their respective job roles by 1 July 2023.
Higher Wages Comes With More Responsibilities
Under the PWM for the industry, workers will need to take a minimum number of Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) modules in order to progress in their career. The higher you progress, the higher the wage and the more responsibilities.
Each job rung has different requirements for training and experience. To join the industry, one is required to pass at least two WSQ modules in order to take on entry-level roles. Additional WSQ modules are required for higher-level rungs.
For Crew which is the lowest job rung, a minimum of 2 WSQ modules need to be met under the WSQ certification. For Senior Crew, Team Lead, Driver and Senior Driver, it would be 3 WSQ modules, and lastly for Supervisor and Captain, there 4 WSQ modules to clear.
The Waste Management Industry Will Continue To Improve
Today, most waste is still being manually collected openly and stored at bin centres before being removed by waste collectors. The collection process is usually labour-intensive and often unpleasant due to the odoriferous nature of exposed waste.
However, the nature of waste management is likely to improve with better training and use of technology. For example, to minimise sanitary, odour and pest issues, the Pneumatic Waste Conveyance System (PWCS), is deployed to existing neighbourhoods (Yuhua) and new housing projects (Tengah Town).
The PWCS is an automatic waste collection system that uses a vacuum-type underground pipe network to collect household waste, and then transport through underground pipes to a sealed container. Trucks then periodically collect the waste for disposal. The entire waste collection process is automated, thereby reducing manpower requirements and increasing productivity.
Industry improvements, such as the PWCS, will likely reduce the environmental and sanitary issues associated with open refuse collection methods, creating better working conditions for workers as well as better quality living environment for residents. The PWM works in tandem to support industry improvements by tying sustainable pay increments with skills upgrading which in turn supports wider use of technology and productivity increases in the sector.
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