Over 40,000 cleaners will see basic pay go up by $200 over next three years

The  recommendations on cleaners' pay were put forward on Dec 12, 2016, by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners, which has completed a review of the progressive wage model in the cleaning industry.
The recommendations on cleaners' pay were put forward on Dec 12, 2016, by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners, which has completed a review of the progressive wage model in the cleaning industry.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Cleaners will see their basic pay go up by $200 over the next three years, with a further annual increase of 3 per cent planned in the three years after that .

On top of that, those employed by the same business for at least 12 months will get an annual bonus, equivalent to two weeks of basic monthly pay, from 2020.

These new recommendations were put forward on Monday (Dec 12) by the Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners (TCC), which has completed a review of the progressive wage model in the cleaning industry.

The Government has accepted these recommendations, which will benefit more than 40,000 Singaporean and permanent resident cleaners who are employed by more than 1,200 cleaning businesses here.

Cleaning businesses with new service contracts that take effect from July 1 next year must adopt the new recommendations for 2017.

Meanwhile, those with existing service contracts that take effect before then will have until July 1, 2018 to pay their cleaners wages according to the recommendations.

The progressive wage model is a wage ladder that aims to raise the salaries of low-wage workers through skills upgrading and improvements in productivity.

It applies to workers in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors, and was made mandatory for the cleaning sector in September 2015.

The model specifies a starting wage of at least $1,000 a month for cleaners, with salaries going up to $1,400 and more for higher-skilled cleaners, and from $1,600 for supervisors.

Cleaners have seen their wages rise since 2012, when the model was first mooted. Median basic wages of full-time cleaners here grew by 9 per cent from 2012 to last year. It was $1,100 in June 2015. Median gross wages grew by 12 per cent from 2012 to last year, and were $1,200 in June 2015.

But the cleaning industry here is still struggling with manpower challenges such as high turnover, despite efforts to raise its standards and image. And cleaners too find their wages being "reset", when there is a change in service providers.

The TCC has reached out to service buyers and providers covering about 70 per cent of the cleaning industry workforce for its review of the progressive wage model.

More needs to be done to ensure cleaners achieve sustainable real wage increases, the TCC and National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said in a joint statement on Monday (Dec 12) announcing the new recommendations.

Its first recommendation is a total increase of $200 to basic wages under the model by 2019. This should start with a $60 annual increase in 2017 and 2018, followed by a $80 raise in 2019.

The TCC also recommended a 3 per cent annual increase to wages from 2020 to 2022.

This schedule of increases, said the statement, is expected to help the industry better plan and budget for future cleaning service contracts.

The final recommendation is that workers who have served in the same business for at least 12 months receive an annual bonus from 2020. This bonus, equivalent to two weeks of basic monthly wages, can be paid out on an annual or biannual basis.

The TCC also recommends that service buyers renegotiate existing contracts with their providers to take into account the new wages for cleaners.

"Service buyers are discouraged from exercising the option to extend existing contracts unless they are prepared to vary contract prices to take into account the new wage schedules going forward," said the statement.

The new features, it added, will lead to mutually beneficial outcomes for all: Cleaners will enjoy sustained wage growth and progress in their careers, cleaning businesses can better attract and retain quality workers and be more motivated to invest in their training, and service buyers and consumers will benefit from more reliable and better-quality cleaning services.

Said NTUC assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari, who is also chairman of the TCC: "The latest enhancements to the progressive wage model for the cleaning industry will help support on-going efforts to professionalise the sector. We strongly encourage service buyers and service providers to work closely together to explore productivity solutions to enhance work processes. We also urge cleaners to constantly upgrade their skills so that they can take on higher value-added jobs in the future."