Cleaners adapting to more rigorous standards

Cleaners at malls, foodcourts and toilets have had to adapt to the more rigorous cleaning standards since the start of the pandemic.

"I feel like our jobs are more valued now, because by keeping places clean, I'm protecting people from the virus," said Mr Lim Chye-seng, in his 60s, who has worked as a cleaner at an Orchard Road mall for a year.

He said that while the work might be "more strenuous" due to the more frequent cleaning, having more staff in the team has made his workload manageable.

But he has had to take on more responsibilities, such as cleaning railings and making sure floors are mopped and kept clean.

"I'm looking forward to maybe learning more technology, like how to operate automated cleaning systems so I can be more than just a 'cleaning uncle'," he said.

Madam Goh Li San, 72, who cleans tables and dishes at a foodcourt in the western part of Singapore, said that while automated tray return robots that "walk around" the foodcourt encourage people to return their trays, a cleaner's job is not made easier - tables still have to be cleaned as soon as they are vacated and extra care taken to disinfect surfaces.

"We work long shifts and are always on our feet, but I'm not complaining. I'm lucky to have a job," said Madam Goh, who has worked at the foodcourt for two years.

"Of course, if there are other cute robots who can help us with washing dishes and disinfecting tables, I would be very happy to have them as 'colleagues' too."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2020, with the headline 'Cleaners adapting to more rigorous standards'. Subscribe