PAP town council cleaners to get pay rise

SINGAPORE - Cleaners at all 15 People's Action Party-run town councils are getting a $200 pay rise from this month, as part of continuing efforts to boost the salaries of Singapore's low-wage workers.

The 2,500 cleaners, all of whom are Singaporean or permanent residents and working for contractors engaged by the town councils, will also get skills training.

Starting pay for full-time cleaners will now be $1,200, up from $1,000. The median monthly gross pay of cleaners here is $1,020, according to latest available wage data.

But they are not the only ones to get a boost.

Machine operators and supervisors will get the same increment, bringing their starting wages to $1,400 and $1,600 respectively.

Part-timers also get a pay hike, but this will be adjusted according to how long they work in a day.

"We would like to increase workers' productivity and improve their skills and salaries, so as to provide better services for our residents," said Dr Teo Ho Pin, coordinating chairman for PAP's town councils and Mayor of North West District.

Better employment terms might also attract more locals to the job, added the MP for Bukit Panjang.

Dr Teo was speaking at the signing of a memorandum of understanding on Sunday between the town councils and their contractors to adopt the revised wage model.

But he also acknowledged that service and conservancy (S&C) charges for residents are likely to rise as well. "At some point in time, we will need to revise S&C charges. Quality comes with a price, but this is to better serve residents and enhance conservancy standards," he explained.

The pay of these cleaners was first increased to $1,000 last year, from about $750 in 2008.

This latest raise comes after the cleaners were brought under the progressive wage model introduced by the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) last June.

They will be trained in cleaning areas such as lift landings and corridors. They will also learn how to handle chemicals and operate machinery.

In the next three years, NTUC aims to help 100,000 low-wage workers in various industries.

Some cleaning companies, such as Ban Chuan Trading and Engineering, have already put in the new wage model with the $200 pay rise.

"Our operation costs will definitely increase, but we want to attract more Singaporeans," said Mr Johnny Lim, the director of the company, which employs more than 300 cleaners.

Cleaner Chan Yew Ghee, 52, who has been with Ban Chuan Trading for two years, said the extra money, which he had been receiving since August, has allowed him to save more every month.

"My wife and I had to be very careful with our expenses, so this helps to ease our burden," he said.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.