Buy a product, contribute to fund for toilet cleaners

A toilet at CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace. The school won an award at the Let's Observe Ourselves (Loo) Awards for its outstanding toilets.
A toilet at CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace. The school won an award at the Let's Observe Ourselves (Loo) Awards for its outstanding toilets.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

From next year, a portion of the amount you spend on some sanitary products may pay for a toilet cleaner's groceries.

The Restroom Association (Singapore) or RAS, a non-profit group, announced yesterday that it will be partnering sanitary product firms to raise funds for low-wage cleaning attendants. Firms can decide on an amount to be donated to the association for each purchase made by consumers, and also offer discounts to people who donate to the RAS.

The funds raised will go towards grocery vouchers and appreciation meals for cleaning attendants.

Toilet cleaners earn a "very low" amount of $800 to $1,000 a month, according to Ms Tan Puay Hoon, RAS president. Some are independent workers who do not get medical benefits or insurance, she added.

The association was moved to act after it surveyed 230 people last month and found that eight in 10 expressed support for fund-raising campaigns for cleaning attendants. About 60 per cent said they would buy toiletries from companies involved in such campaigns.

The survey results were announced yesterday at RAS' eighth Let's Observe Ourselves (Loo) Awards, which recognised outstanding toilets and cleaning service providers. Held at the CHIJ Our Lady Queen of Peace school, the event commemorates World Toilet Day which falls on Nov 19.

The survey, which RAS carried out with online polling firm SurveyMonkey, also found that while most people appreciate clean toilets, not many want their child to work as a cleaning attendant. Nearly 35 per cent of respondents said they would be disappointed if their child were to work as a cleaning attendant, compared to a production worker, delivery driver or security officer.

At the same time, eight in 10 viewed cleanliness as the most important factor when using a toilet, compared to accessibility, user- friendly facilities, design and smell.

"The work performed by cleaning attendants is always crucial to all public toilet users and there should be more means of recognising the remarkable contributions made by them," said Ms Tan.

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources and Health, called cleaners "our silent heroes and heroines" who should not go unnoticed.

Correction note: An earlier version of our article did not attribute the survey data to SurveyMonkey. SurveyMonkey has since clarified that it collaborated with RAS on the survey.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2016, with the headline 'Buy a product, contribute to fund for toilet cleaners'. Subscribe