Parliament: Move to provide proper rest areas for cleaners

The cleaners' room at Yishun Park Hawker Centre provides facilities such as a changing stall and storage area. Cleaners have a special room where they can take breaks, have their meals and keep their belongings safely at seven hawker centres.
The cleaners' room at Yishun Park Hawker Centre provides facilities such as a changing stall and storage area. Cleaners have a special room where they can take breaks, have their meals and keep their belongings safely at seven hawker centres.PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE MINISTRY OF MANPOWER

At seven hawker centres, cleaners have a special room where they can take breaks, have their meals and keep their belongings safely.

This is a new move by the National Environment Agency (NEA) to have proper rest areas for cleaners.

The initiative was highlighted by Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad in Parliament yesterday during the debate on the ministry's budget.

He said: "In addition to enhancing our lower-income workers' wages and employability, I agree with Mr Zainal Sapari (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) and Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio GRC) that our care should extend to their working conditions and how they are treated at work.

"Workers need safe and conducive environments for their rest breaks, such as for meals. Yet, we have encountered cases of cleaners having to use makeshift rest areas at stairwells or in open public areas."

He said his ministry will look into companies' practices in giving workers access to proper rest areas. This will start with the cleaning sector.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2019, with the headline 'Move to provide proper rest areas for cleaners'. Print Edition | Subscribe