Let’s talk money: Progressive Wage

Eh bros, not say i wanna say lah. But you all know how many cleaners there are in Singapore or not?

69k of them.


(pause for effect)
SIXTY NINE THOUSAND LEH!!! (why so many numbers got 6 and 9 nowadays i dunno).

The SAF commands only 71k (active personnel) at any one time.

Progressive Wage Model

(Exhibit A: An army of cleaners)

That’s why Singapore can be so clean – basket, for every soldier, we can have one aunty that can clean up after him can?

But that’s not the point. The point is this – check out the pay. A chao recruit today has an allowance of about $450, a career cleaner (if there’s such a term), takes home about $700. The problem is that the chao recruit is still a ginah that has parents supporting him, or he can moonlight. But the aunty leh? Scarli she got to support family lagi! (However, a large number of retiree cleaners are just doing this work as a means to stay active)

So got problem right? So you think the easiest way to increase her pay is to comprain to gahmen for minimum wage right?


Ji ku weh” (one sentence) – Minimum wage will kill the livelihoods for future generations of low wage workers. If you know you need to pay $1000 for a worker, then you will never pay more for cleaners ever again… no matter how productive, no matter how smart, no matter how loyal your cleaners have been.

Progressive Wage Model


(Just like the moonwalk, your salary doesn’t go forward)

What else… if the market pays a flat fee for all low wage workers, then surely people will flock towards the easiest work what. Why be a cleaner when you can be a security guard, that pays the same rate?

Progressive Wage Model

(Don’t be screwed by money)

What about artistic work? What about junior artists, designers, programers, writers… if the minimum wage is $1000, i just pay you little bit more than that sua. This is what’s wrong with the minimum wage. It makes things flat. No progress. No future.

Progressive Wage Model

(Actual view of an artist’s wallet, post minimum wage)

So die lah is it? Our low-wage workers continue to suffer?


Since 2 (or something) years ago, there has been this thing called “Progressive Wage” for the cleaning industry. What happen is, in order to get a licence to do your business, you must show that your company will be able to promote, upgrade and pay more to their low wage workers.

And yes, it also requires that the company pay at least $1000. *cough* Is this minimum wage? *cough cough* Well…yes and no lah. It’s not nationwide minimum wage, it’s only for one industry. Also it’s not a law…but if you don’t comply then you don’t do business lor.

Today it is the cleaning industry. Soon it will be for security. Later sector by sector you will see more companies doing this progressive wage thing – which is damn good lor, because we all got career and promotion, our friends from low-wage sector also must have what right?

Will it work? For now, so far so good lah – see this video here.

Anyway, I’m very kaypoh one… if you know of anybody who has benefited (or not) from Progressive Wage, please contact me via my editor at:[email protected]

Next article, we will look at a some very gahmen sounding words: WIS, WSQ, WorkFare…

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