Category Archives: Security Work

The Problem With 24-hour Guards

So this morning, the regular day guard didn’t come. Because today’s his one off day per week. So the agency had to send in a replacement, right?

And so the manager thought it would be perfectly alright to call in a night guard who’s been working the night shift on the other side of the island. So that means this dude is pulling a 24-hour shift even as I am writing this blog post.

And obviously, since he had a night shift to complete and he’s on the other side of the island, he came in late. I was supposed to be relieved at 7 a.m. but the night guard came in at 8.30 a.m.

When I called the manager to ask about the day guard’s replacement, he told me, in a jovial tone, to claim O.T.

Why the f**k should I claim O.T.? I am already working 12-hour shifts for 72 hours per week! I need LESS hours, not more!

Anyway, when the day guard’s replacement came in at 8.30 a.m., I told him, “I am going to come in at 8.30 p.m. tonight because I don’t do overtime.”

The day guard’s replacement actually got indignant when I told him that. He tried to explain why he’s late.

“I was at Tuas! I need time to get here…”

“I am the only one who can do this!”

Yeah, I KNOW. I know how long it takes to travel from Tuas to our workplace. BUT if you knew that as well, then you shouldn’t have agreed to come in to replace the day guard! Why would you want to inconvenience someone else just so you can earn more money for yourself?

Have you ever considered that there are people who don’t want to wait an hour and a half for you to arrive? Have you ever considered how dangerous it is to ride your motorcycle on the road after completing a 24-hour shift?

HAVE YOU SPARED A THOUGHT FOR OTHERS?

However, I told him that I wasn’t angry with him. I was angry, and rightfully so, with the manager for arranging this. The manager already knew the day guard takes every Sunday off, so he should have arranged for a proper relief guard to come in every Sunday! And not make some overly enthusiastic guy work 24-hour shifts!

The manager* and the 24-hour guard both need to think hard about how they are inconveniencing others and endangering lives. Mark my words, and mark it well! Security guards have died in the past due to overwork, and they will continue to do so if this industry continues to turn a blind eye to 24-hour guards.

Loh Teck Yong

* I have always called him the manager, but the regular day guard told him his actual title is Senior Operations Executive. Oh well, whatever.

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They Kept Their Promises

A few days ago, I made a blog post about my agency. I said that they might be breaking 2 out of 3 promises they had made when I first signed up with them.

Things have been a bit hectic recently so I haven’t found the time to post updates. But tonight is my only off day this week, so I have some spare time.

Here’s an account of what happened on 14/11/17 (Tuesday).

When I reached the train station near my work site, I went to an ATM machine to check my bank balance. And I found an extra 200 dollars in my bank account! Okay, that means they kept their promise to pay me a weekly advance every Tuesday.

And when I reached the work site, the day guard told me the manager had came down earlier with my uniform. Good. They finally managed to keep their promise to provide me with 2 pieces of uniform.

So far so good. I hope this good behaviour keeps up.

Some of you might think that I am being too skeptical, but I have seen too much of the ugliness of men in my line of work. Too many security guards have been abused or scammed by their employers, so there is no way I can trust an agency blindly.

Especially one that still HASN’T given me a copy of my contract.

Loh Teck Yong

They Are About To Break The Second Promise

So when I showed up for work last night, I found out that the manager had broken his 1st promise yet again. The promise was to provide me with another uniform because I was supposed to get two. When he failed to deliver them to the workplace on Friday, like he had promised during my job interview, he assured me it would be sent down on Monday.

Okay, fine. I could still put up with it. I asked for permission to wear a white shirt instead of the official black polo shirt, and it was granted.

And then he told me he’s going to break his 2nd promise. Which was to pay me a weekly advance of S$200 every Tuesday. Since he had been breaking the 1st promise, I figured it would be safer to remind him about his 2nd promise.

What he told me was: “But you only worked for us for 4 days. We can’t pay you an advance yet.”

What the f**k? Did he mention this at the job interview? Did he say I had to work for a minimum number of days before I could get my advance? NO! What he told me was that there wouldn’t be any problem paying me a weekly advance of 200 dollars every Tuesday.  Read the rest of this entry

They Broke Their First Promise

Will I have trouble with my new job?

It appears so. When I took up the job, the agency promised me 3 things.

First of all, I would get 2 uniforms. But they only had one in my size when I went for my interview so the manager promised to send my second uniform to my workplace on by Friday.

Well, I went to the condominium on Friday, but there was no 2nd uniform waiting for me. When I called the manager, he said they could only send me one on Monday as the office’s close during the weekend.

Their second promise to me was that I would be receiving weekly wage advances (S$200) every Tuesday. This coming Tuesday, we will be able to see if they can keep their second promise.

The third promise is a monthly salary of S$2040 (gross). To find out if they will honor that promise, I will have to wait till the 7th of December. I never did receive a copy of my employment contract so I can’t be absolutely sure they will keep this particular promise.

3 promises but they already broke the first one the moment I started work. I think I might be able to have that new chapter for my book after all.

Loh Teck Yong

5 Stresses Security Guards Go Through That The Public Should Know About

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In recent years, high profile cases of security guards being abused or abusive have been reported via online media. Well, those few cases were brought into the cold light of day to be commented on by the general public but, as an industry insider, I can assure you that such unhappy incidents happen on an almost daily basis.

So by putting out this list here, I hope that those of you who have never worked as a security guard before can understand our job better. And with this understanding, perhaps we will be treated better by our clients and members of the public.

#1. Threats Of Bodily Harm

We get that a lot, due to the nature of our job.

Security guards, even though they are usually called “security officers” nowadays, do not have the powers of actual peace officers. Such as the power to lay charges. And the public knows this. That’s why we are considered safe targets for abuse and threats. And so, words that your average “beng” will never ever dare say to a real cop can be liberally heaped on security guards.

But despite not having great powers, we are still burdened with responsibilities. If you happen to spot delinquents smoking or exhibiting rowdy behaviour at the mall, who do you call? Yes, the security guards.

#2. Actually Getting Hit

It happens. From time to time. We have all seen the videos. The fare evader hitting a security guard at Enggor Street. The security manager slapping and punching his subordinates at a condominium. The security guard and delinquent fighting at The Cathay. And like I said earlier, unhappy things happen to security guards on an almost daily basis, so there are probably hundreds of such incidents that haven’t seen the light of day.

Also, as if to rub salt into injury, some security guards who were assualted either resigned “voluntarily” or were taken out of their usual stomping grounds and transfered to unfamiliar work assignments.

#3. Delayed Salary Payments

When I started working in this industry back in 1999, I heard a horrible story from a fellow guard who was working at a mall. For nearly a month, his employer had been paying the guards at the mall with nasi lemak. Yes, nasi lemak instead of cash.

See, they were supposed to be paid in cash every week but, somehow, their agency kept delaying payments. If I remember correctly, the reason given was “no cash flow”. But being the nice boss that he was, the agency owner went down to the mall every day to reward his employees with nasi lemak. Compensation for a 12-hour shift.

At least, with that one meal per day, my friend wouldn’t starve so he kept on showing up for work. So yeah, they were just getting strung along with meals of nasi lemak until the boss decided to pay their salaries.

And then in 2009, I myself became the victim of delayed salary payments. I remember I had to beg and pester my Operations Manager for my salary every single week, and it felt like I was working as a debt collector rather than a security guard. Eventually I got fed up and resigned.

We security guards have to put up with long working hours and a lot of unpleasant situations at work, so is it really too much to ask for that our employers pay our salaries ON TIME? I don’t think so. Read the rest of this entry

True Security Guard Ghost Stories: A Halloween Special

Many security guards work twelve-hour night shifts, in eerily quiet buildings and sometimes quite remote areas, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that urban legends and spooky tales have sprung up among our community. This Halloween, if you want to give yourself a good scare with some stories from beyond the grave, chat up a security guard.

Or you can keep on reading.

Because people kept asking me for ghost stories after they found out that I had worked the night shift at various notorious buildings in Singapore, I decided to include some in my yet-to-be-published book, Guards Gone Wild!. As a sort of fan service. So, there they are. Three chapters containing stories of close run-ins with the spine-chilling aspect of security work.

Haunted School

“At this particular school, one of the unbendable rules pertained to the treatment of ‘night students’, the unquiet spirits of students past. According to reliable eyewitnesses, they showed up from time to time, still neatly attired in uniforms of yesteryear, prowling the corridors during the hours of darkness.

‘Ignore them,’ my fellow guard warned. Especially when they tried to grab your attention with friendly greetings. Maybe a ‘hello’, sung from one of the upper floors or a wave of a hand if you were caught looking in the right direction.”

– Excerpt from Haunted School.

But strangely enough, even while my colleague had his fair share of spooky encounters and even while the weekend part-timers were harassed, I myself was never bothered by the ‘night students’. The Haunted School chapter tells the story of two unfortunate weekend part-timers who saw “someone”, a man wearing a white shirt who looked suspiciously like a student, pull off an impossible disappearing act and were so freaked out that they promptly resigned from their job. Read the rest of this entry

Job Cuts In Security Industry

And that’s not a good thing, despite what this glowing article from the Straits Times is saying.

For starters, any situation where workers are let go is never good. After their removal from the shopping malls, where can they go? Condominiums? Office buildings? But what if other places decide to follow suit and use technology as an excuse to cut down on the number of security guards at their premises?

Where would those guards go? Let me tell you one hard truth about the security industry in Singapore. I have been working (on an on-and-off basis) as a security guard myself since 1999, and I can tell you that many security guards are unable to move out of their comfort zone in the security industry.

Many of my colleagues don’t even have ‘O’ levels. And I met plenty who were only educated up to primary-school level. But they were able to make a somewhat decent living because security guards working at malls get paid several hundred dollars more than guards at other assignments like schools or condominiums.

Now, maybe those guards who were let go by the malls can find vacancies at less lucrative sites and they can continue to wear their uniforms, but if they are unlucky… What then? Factory jobs are even harder to come by nowadays and many cleaning companies tend to hire cheap foreign workers. You tell me. What can a ex-security guard with primary-level education find in today’s job market? Read the rest of this entry