Parliament: Firms urged to improve plight of low-wage service workers

Those who procure services can do more to improve the plight of low-wage workers, said labour MP Zainal Sapari yesterday.

These include focusing on quality rather than price as well as making sure contracts have fair clauses and no unreasonable liquidated damages, said Mr Zainal (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC).

On top of that, the companies that procure such services should consider longer contract periods, which will give service providers an incentive to invest in technology.

When contracts are renewed, service buyers should also take into consideration that the incumbent workers are more experienced and familiar with the job requirements, and ensure they are not worse off.

"Adopting progressive procurement practices will achieve more favourable outcomes for all, including better welfare for our outsourced, low-wage workers," he added.

Mr Zainal said those who procure services have a "moral responsibility" to look after the welfare of such outsourced workers.

"This includes training - allowing service providers to send their workers for training without requesting headcount replacements - and workplace welfare."


He also called for building owners and those who procure such services to set aside dedicated rest areas for these workers, and urged government agencies to set the example.

Mr Zainal also stressed that service providers must not bid for contracts at the expense of workers' welfare.

"Service providers should not gamble on their workers' wages and welfare and hope that the contract they won through price undercutting will bring them profit."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2019, with the headline 'Firms urged to improve plight of low-wage service workers'. Print Edition | Subscribe