Cleaning fees for 9 hawker centers will be increased from at least a minimum of $200 per month for each hawker stall. PAP Minister Grace Fu however could not provide details on the extent to which the increases in fees would benefit the cleaners since it would
“depend on the operations of each cleaning service provider”, despite having the National Environmental Agency claiming that the new rates were mainly due to higher wages for cleaners and training costs by accredited cleaning contractors.
“The increased costs were fair and representative of market rates for such services. As cleaners are paid a fairer wage, we can expect cleaning charges to increase” ~ National Environment Agency
So which is which: is the new fee hike for a “fairer” wage for the cleaners, or is the new fee hike dependent on the operations of each cleaning service provide as Grace Fu claimed? If the latter is true, that also means the raising the wages of cleaners is just a convenient excuse for the private contractors to raise cleaning fees and much of the cleaning fee hike will go into the fat pockets of the contractors bosses. As Singapore does not have a minimum wage, cleaners in Singapore are exploited and have their salaries depressed for the past decade due to the influx of foreign workers. Bosses of contractors are also well known as one of the champion complainers for more cheap foreign labor in the name of “keeping costs down”, when in actual fact they are pocketing the profits.
Hawker stall owners have expressed their dissatisfaction over the cleaning fee hike and even appealed to their constituent MP but to no avail. At the Holland Village Market and Food Centre and Commonwealth Crescent Market, the cleaning fees will increase by 156% from $240 to $614 a month. MP Chan Chun Sing was approached by the hawker stall owners but there is no follow-up from the walkover Millionaire Minister. At Tanglin Halt Market, monthly fees will jump 79% from $268 to $480 and at Maxwell Food Centre, 92% from $260 to $500. The remaining affected hawker centres are Adam Food Centre, Geylang Serai Market and Newton Food Centre.
The affected 9 hawker centers is noticeably under the same contractor whose executive director’s name, Tan Hang Kian, [Source] happens to be the same name as that of a Vice-Chairman of the Siglap Citizens’ Consultative Committee and a RC member [Source]. It is unknown if the cleaning fee hike is initiated by the RC member.
Hawker center cleaning jobs are usually taken up by the elderly and foreign workers as unlike the other countries, the cleaners’ salary doesn’t enable one to have a decent standard of living. The anti-welfare PAP government do not subscribe to Minimum Wage, saying that Singapore’s economy would be uncompetitive without cheap labor.