Beginning July 2023, landscape workers in Singapore can expect to receive an annual increment of 6.3% of their baseline pay, with the increases built into the licensing requirements for landscaping firms. This initiative is part of the city-state's ongoing efforts to raise the pay of low-wage workers through a progressive wage model.
The increments were announced last week by the Tripartite Cluster for Landscape Industry, a workgroup comprising representatives from the government, the industry, and the labour unions. According to the workgroup, the pay increases will run until July 2029, leading to a collective increment of about 45%. However, the workgroup plans to review pay increases again in 2025 and may make fresh recommendations then.
This latest initiative itself builds on an earlier set of recommendations, made in 2018, for landscaping firms to increase their workers' salaries by 3% per annum. The doubling of the annual increment reflects the urgency that the Singapore government is placing on raising wages for sectors that have typically been undervalued due to what the Ministry of Manpower describes as "widespread cheap sourcing".
Although the increments appear large, they actually equate to only about S$100-S$165 per year. Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said that the increments are intended to help the wages of low-wage workers grow faster than those of workers earning the median wage, so that low-wage workers can eventually catch up to the median.
Figures from the tripartite workgroup indicate that 358 landscape companies have adopted the progressive wage model and the annual increments as of 1 January this year, covering about 3,000 employees.
Besides the landscaping industry, Singapore has also introduced the progressive wage model to the cleaning and security industries, which have been heavily criticised in past years for paying extremely low wages.