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Security association slams tender by Hillview Heights condo managing agent over 'race and age discrimination'

SINGAPORE — A tender for security services at a Bukit Batok condominium, which asked for guards who speak Mandarin and are below the age of 60, was called out by the Security Association Singapore on Monday (Sept 6) for what it said was discrimination against non-Mandarin speakers and older workers.

A view of Hillview Heights condominium in Bukit Batok.

A view of Hillview Heights condominium in Bukit Batok.

  • A tender for security services stipulates a few conditions for the security agency to be hired
  • The agency will be penalised by S$100 a shift if it fails to provide a Chinese-speaking guard at Hillview Heights condo
  • It may also be fined for deploying guards older than 60 without permission from the condo management
  • The management agent is Savills Property Management
  • Security Association Singapore has alerted the authorities on the issue

 

SINGAPORE — A tender for security services at a Bukit Batok condominium, which asked for guards who speak Mandarin and are below the age of 60, was called out by the Security Association Singapore on Monday (Sept 6) for what it said was discrimination against non-Mandarin speakers and older workers.

The tender, which was put out by the condo Hillview Heights’ managing agent, Savills Property Management, states that there will be financial penalties of S$100 a shift imposed on the security agency if it fails to provide “a Chinese-speaking guard” for more than six shifts each month.

Then, in brackets, the tender document states that dialects are “acceptable”.

The management may also fine the agency S$100 each time a guard younger than 21 years old or older than 60 years old is deployed without the management’s approval.

The tender was posted on e-marketplace site Really Singapore and dated Sept 3.

TODAY has reached out to Savills for comment.

In a press statement and also in a Facebook post, the Security Association Singapore said that it is highlighting these particular clauses in the tender because they appear to penalise security agencies unless they exercise discrimination in their hiring and deployment of security officers.

It added that there were also other clauses in the tender that were of concern to the association, though it did not say what they were.

“As we all know, Mandarin and the dialects are not mutually translatable — so what exactly is the job requirement here that Savills is looking for? Furthermore, for a Singapore condominium, is it a reasonable requirement for a Chinese-speaking officer to be deployed at all times?” the association asked.

“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.”

There was also nothing in the tender that stated how the condo management would decide on approving guards younger than 21 or older than 60.

“It appears there is just an intention for older workers not to be deployed at the site,” the association said, adding that it would raise the issue with the Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) and the Ministry of Manpower.

“But we are also well aware that there may not be much they can do, because the fair employment guidelines apply only to employers.

“In this regard, 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.”

Describing this as a “gap in the law”, the association said that it had called for the Tafep guidelines to be extended to service buyers in the past.

The issue of discriminatory hiring practices was raised by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during the National Day Rally last month. 

Mr Lee said that while it is “understandable and acceptable” that some jobs require proficiency in the Chinese language, minorities may find it unreasonable and unfair if employers insist on hiring Mandarin-speakers if the language is not required for the job.

In the Security Association Singapore's press statement, its executive director Ikhsan Suri said that managing agents should advise their clients 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,” Mr Ikhsan 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.

 

Related topics

discrimination MOM Tafep Jobs security guard condo Security Association Singapore

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