More than 40,000 cleaners in Singapore will see notable salary increase to their yearly wage adjustments from 2017 to 2019 with a total increase of S$200 to their basic salary, according to an announcement by the National Trade Union Congress this Monday.
This comes after a review of the Progressive Wage Model (PMW) by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC), after consultation with buyers and service providers covering about 70 percent of the industry’s workforce to come up with recommendations. These recommendations have been accepted by the Government as part of its mandatory licensing requirements.
According to recommendations by TCC, cleaners across all cleaning sub-sectors – those employed in office and commercial buildings, food and beverage establishments and conservancy work will see an increase of S$60 in 2017 and 2018, and S$80 in 2019 in basic wage levels.
Taking into consideration, the relatively tough job nature of conservancy cleaning, the conservancy cleaners will continue to receive higher salary, the TCC stated in its report. As recommended by the TCC, the Government agrees to provide a lead time of at least 6 months for the industry to adopt the new Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the cleaning sector.
For all new contracts with effect from July 1, 2017, the commissioner of labour will ensure that the relevant PMW schedules for resident cleaners are followed. For existing contracts and those that take effect before July 1, 2017 the cleaning businesses are allowed time until July 2018 to comply with the relevant PMW schedules.
Cleaning services in Singapore are predominantly outsourced. For workers in the cleaning industry, prior to 2012, wage increases over the years had been slow and wage levels remained low despite skills training and various efforts at improving productivity.
Due to prevalent cheap-sourcing, market forces alone had not been sufficient to ensure that improvements in standards and productivity translate into wage increases for these workers. In June 2012, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) introduced its progressive wages approach to help low-wage workers in different sectors achieve sustainable real wage increases which correspond to their skills and productivity levels.
These revised wages would provide cleaners with better clarity on how they can achieve wage progression, thus motivating them to perform. TCC further encourages cleaners to upgrade skills through training such that they can progress to higher value-added jobs, work more effectively and earn more.
To ensure that cleaners enjoy sustained wage growth in line with productivity improvements and better service delivery, the TCC recommended an annual wage increase of 3 percent to the PWM from 2020 to 2022 across all three cleaning sub-sectors. This recommended schedule of increases should help the industry better plan and budget for future cleaning service contracts.
Additionally, there will also be an annual bonus (AB) equivalent to two weeks of basic monthly wages to be paid out to workers from 2020. This should enable employers to better attract and retain workers, while helping uplift workers’ total income levels.
These developments should motivate the workers to stay longer and with the same employer when there are more training and upgrading opportunities. Employers will in turn be more incentivised to train their workers when there are better retention rates.
TCC recommends that the Annual Bonus be paid on an annual or bi-annual basis to workers who have been employed by the same business for at least 12 months.
The progressive wage scales are only meant for full-time resident cleaners, while for part-time cleaners, TCC suggests that employers pro-rate their wages based on the number of hours that the part-timer is required to work, as compared to the typical contractual hours worked by a full-timer in the same job.
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