On 12 December 2016, National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) announced that cleaners will receive yearly salary increases from 2017 to 2019 for a total of S$200. Various government agencies like Ministry of Manpower, National Environment Agency and Workforce Singapore said the salary increase will benefit more than 40,000 resident cleaners employed by 1,200 cleaning businesses.
For an industry that faces high turnover rate due to the perceived unsustainable low wages, this is a good move by the government. According to NTUC, the median salary for full-time cleaners was S$1,100 and gross wages were S$1,200 in 2015. With such low salaries, it is hard to imagine how a cleaner can live a quality lifestyle in an expensive city like Singapore.
For the longest time, our society has always downplayed the contribution of cleaners. The general perception is that due to the low skills required for their jobs, they don’t deserve a respectable level of salary or salary increases (if any) for that matter. But we seem to neglect the fact that cleaners play an important role in maintaining Singapore’s reputation as a clean and green city. We need them to do the dirty jobs of clearing rubbish chutes and cleaning toilets. If the salary is too low, how can the industry attract workers, especially Singaporeans, to do these dirty jobs?
To help cleaners obtain better salary increases, the government is trying hard to enhance the skill of a cleaner so that they can add value to their employers. To be frank, I don’t know how the government agencies are tackling this issue. Maybe cleaners are taught to use specialized equipment or techniques to clean toilets. Maybe they are taught additional hands-on skills that enable them to broaden their work-scope. But at the end of the day, the key message is that …Read more