Enhancing the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for Lift & Escalator Sector? YES!

Ng Chee Meng, NTUC Secretary General

“From thirty storeys if you fall, I think your body will be smashed right…” This was what lift technician Mohammad Hazri previously shared in TV series, On the Red Dot.

Today, there are an estimated 70,000 lifts and 7,000 escalators in Singapore. To keep our lifts and escalators functioning smoothly, technicians like Mohammad Hazri often risk their own safety. Don’t you agree they should be recognised and rewarded accordingly? The good news? The Tripartite Cluster for Lift & Escalator (TCLE) has conducted a review of the Lift & Escalator (L&E) PWM, and is putting forth key recommendations including:

  • Extension of the existing Lift PWM to cover escalator maintenance workers
  • A six-year schedule of wage increase to the L&E PWM baseline wages from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2029 (This builds on the existing PWM Transitional Wage Benchmark agreed upon in 2018 which maps a schedule of transitional wage benchmarks from 2020 to 2022.)
  • A mandatory PWM Bonus
lift maintenance
When litter trapped in the door seal causes a lift to stall, it’s workers like Mohammad Hazri who risks his safety to fix our lifts. Source

Good news indeed! Lift and escalator technicians are often exposed to hazards like falls and electric shocks as they go about doing their work. Do you recall the case of the 29-year-old lift technician who died in February this year after he got trapped in a lift shaft while carrying out repair works? Really, few people are aware of how big the risks are for these technicians!

Better wages, welfare and work prospects for L&E technicians through the PWM

Today, there are about 3,050 technicians in the industry. About 50% of Singapore resident maintenance workers are likely to retire within the next 10 years. It looks like the sector will be facing a serious manpower shortage in the near future unless it is able to attract younger Singaporeans to join this sector!

Moving forward, even more will be done to recognise the services of our essential workers. Our L&E maintenance workers have specialised skill sets to ensure the smooth running of our lifts and escalators, without which we will all be greatly inconvenienced. The value of L&E maintenance work must therefore be recognised accordingly.

The latest PWM review will see more lift and escalator maintenance workers earning progressive wages that commensurate with their skill sets. Now, this PWM is the result of several rounds of meetings, dialogues and focus group discussions to gather the views and feedback from all key stakeholders!

NTUC Secretary General, Mr Ng Chee Meng and Senior Minister of State for Manpower Mr Zaqy Mohamad with Mr Abdul Razak bin Abd Rahman, a technician from Schindler Lifts. Source

Uplifting workers’ total income levels

From 2022 to 2023, the base wages of Assistant L&E Specialists, for example, will increase to $2,075, up from $1,850 in 2022. Wages for entry-level Assistant L&E Specialists will see a base-wage increase of about 66% cumulatively from 2022 to 2028. The TCLE has also recommended the introduction of a “PWM Bonus” from January 2023.

A six-year schedule of wage increase to the L&E PWM baseline wages from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2029 Source

PWM Wage increment chart for lift and escalator technicians
A six-year schedule of wage increase to the L&E PWM baseline wages from 1 July 2023 to 30 June 2029 Source

The new developments in PWM for the L&E industry are certainly very much welcomed. The industry needs a strong and skilled L&E workforce, and the PWM will go a long way in supporting these technicians for sure. National Trades Union Congress assistant director-general Mr Zainal Sapari said demand for lift and escalator maintenance is expected to increase in the coming years as more high-rise buildings are being built and as more emphasis is being placed on ensuring accessibility.

“The industry must be able to meet this higher demand with a strong and skilled lift and escalator workforce. Thus, we believe the recommendations… are very timely.”

The PWM was first set out by the NTUC in 2012. Work is underway to expand the PWM to cover up to nearly 218,000 workers – more than double the 85,000 currently.


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