Get real. If we want cleaners to get more pay, WE as consumers have to make a stand.
For e.g. how can WE raise the pay of cleaners. The average cleaner’s wage today is about $800.
WE, can visit only hawker centres that pay cleaners well. The reason why cleaners at hawker centres are paid low is because stall owners only want to contribute so much to the cost of cleaning. Because they want to keep the food price low. Because you and I want our char kway teow at $2. But if the hawker centre pays cleaners good salaries, we as consumers can agree to pay more for char kway teow, and share the cost increase.
WE, can return our own plates at hawker centres. If we all return our own plates, the savings from cutting away some manpower can go to the remaining cleaners, giving them pay increase. A portion of the hawker centre cleaning workforce is already foreigners anyway. So cutting away manpower will reduce our use of foreign workers too. If the hawker centres do not pass this savings to raise the pay of cleaners, we boycott the centre.
WE, can offer to pay more S&CC to Town Councils. The reason why our cleaners at HDB estates are paid low is because we don’t want to pay more to upkeep the cleanliness of our estates. We can ask the Town Councils to please raise S&CC so that we all share the cost of wage increase of the cleaners.
WE, can choose to only visit shopping malls where toilet cleaners are paid well. The malls today outsource cleaning to a cleaning company, which will tender for the cleaning project. The mall awards the cheapest tenderer. The company which won the tender would not have much profit margin to give cleaners good salaries. BUT, if we don’t visit the mall, the mall will have no choice but to indicate in its tender that cleaners must be paid a certain salary before they award the project to companies.
Not only for cleaners, but for all other low wage workers. WE can choose to buy from only companies that treat and pay their workers well, much like how we support environmentally friendly companies, no animal-testing products, and fair-trade coffee.
WE, can make a difference. REAL wage increase starts from us.