May Day 'power' gift for cleaners and sweepers

May Day 'power' gift for cleaners and sweepers

Some 700 daily-rated workers are getting to recharge their batteries.

The group - mostly cleaners and road sweepers hired by the National Environment Agency and Singapore Sports Council - are being given portable power banks to help them charge up their mobile devices.

The $20 May Day gifts are being sponsored by the NTUC FairPrice Foundation. About 250 were handed out by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Seah Kian Peng at a ceremony held at the Environment Building yesterday. The rest will get the gift directly from their union.

The Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers arranged the presents for its members.

Said Mr G. Muthukumarasamy, the union's general secretary: "They carry mobile phones and they work outdoors, so they can keep their phones charged to keep in touch with their families."

Mr Seah, the chief executive of NTUC FairPrice and the union's adviser, said he was initially surprised when the union asked for power banks, but was convinced by the union that they would be appreciated by the workers.

Besides the May Day gift, the union said it has given its members more than $106,000 in bursaries and vouchers to purchase groceries and textbooks. "Many of them belong to low-income families and we must do our best to help them keep up with the rising cost of living," said Mr Muthukumarasamy.

Daily-rated workers typically earn about $1,300 a month, sweeping roads and drains. One of those who found the power bank useful was road sweeper Poh Lian Key, 63, who said in Hokkien: "It is my first time getting such a device." But road sweeper Sangara Banoi, 66, said he would likely give the gift away, adding: "I don't have a mobile phone."

Yesterday's event was part of the National Trades Union Congress' annual May Day celebrations.

This article was first published on May 13, 2015.
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