More hawkers are facing higher bills for cleaning services as companies raise workers' wages amid a labour crunch. And that could mean customers paying more when the costs are passed on.
Stall holders in at least four hawker centres here have seen their monthly costs for dish-clearing and table-wiping balloon by as much as $140 a month since September, checks by The Straits Times have shown.
These food centres include the ones in Chinatown, Redhill, Jalan Besar and Taman Jurong.
Fees paid by hawkers for these externally contracted cleaning services reportedly range from $226 to $676 a month.
The contractors are either engaged by the National Environment Agency or through the hawkers' association representing all the stall holders at a particular centre.
Each hawker also pays a different fee, depending on the type of food being served.
At ABC Brickworks Food Centre in Redhill, for instance, hawkers selling cooked food now have to pay $15 a day, up from $11 in the past - a rise of 36 per cent.
Drink sellers pay $13, when it was $10 before, while hawkers selling takeaway items shell out $11, up from $9.
Said Mr Lim Kim Hock, chairman of ABC Brickworks Hawker's Association: "Of course, hawkers in their feedback said that they would rather pay less.
"But it's difficult to find a good contractor because of the issues they face - they have to pay more overheads because they are raising wages."
Three out of 10 hawkers that The Straits Times spoke to said they would not rule out transferring the extra costs to patrons.