Agreeing that renegotiating contracts with private buyers is an uphill task is Mr Robert Wiener, president of the Association of Certified Security Agencies.

He said that while "there are some enlightened clients", for the rest, a renegotiation would have to be pitched alongside other service improvements - such as software or hardware upgrades to reduce overall manpower deployment.

This year's proposed $60 hike received praise from unions like the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers and employers such as the PAP town councils and the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (Asme).

PAP town councils issued a statement saying they will make sure their cleaners get the raise.

President of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Thomas Chua said his grouping "appreciates the special attention being given to low- wage workers... as this is the group that needs extra help".

But given patchy implementation of last year's $50 raise - only three in 10 firms complied - those interviewed said more needs to be done to ensure firms fall in line.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) vice- president K. Karthikeyan suggested naming and shaming firms that were profitable yet did not give the raise.

Asme president Chan Chong Beng said workers should not let intransigent SME bosses get away by pleading ignorance about the NWC guidelines. He said: "Know your rights. Do something to pressure the boss and highlight that you should get what you deserve."

Citing how unionised companies have a much better record - 80 per cent last year - of complying with NWC, labour MP Zainal Sapari said one of NTUC's approach is to unionise more firms.

"One way is for workers of non-unionised companies to join the union. If there is sizable membership in a company, we will unionise it."

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