Cleaners’ real pay down 30 percent last 15 years?

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By: Leong Sze Hian

Over 40,000 cleaners’ basic pay will go up by $200 over next 3 years 

I refer to the article “Over 40,000 cleaners will see basic pay go up by $200 over next three years” (Straits Times, Dec 12).

Some cleaners have to wait until July 2017?

It states that “Cleaning businesses with new service contracts that take effect from July 1 next year must adopt the new recommendations for 2017.

Some cleaners have to wait until July 2018?

Meanwhile, those with existing service contracts that take effect before then will have until July 1, 2018 to pay their cleaners wages according to the recommendations.

Its first recommendation is a total increase of $200 to basic wages under the model by 2019. This should start with a $60 annual increase in 2017 and 2018, followed by a $80 raise in 2019.”

5.6% real increase in 3 years?

As to “Cleaners have seen their wages rise since 2012, when the model was first mooted. Median basic wages of full-time cleaners here grew by 9 per cent from 2012 to last year. It was $1,100 in June 2015. Median gross wages grew by 12 per cent from 2012 to last year, and were $1,200 in June 2015” – this works out to a full-time cleaners’ median basic wages’ real increase (after inflation) of only about 5.6 per cent in the three years, from June 2012 (CPI 96.407) to June 2015 (99.67).

65 cents a day real increase?

This means that the real increase per year was only about 1.9 per cent, or about $19 a month – about 65 cents a day.

Can you imagine getting an increment in pay of just 65 cents a day per year for three years?

Talking about $1,000 pay since 2008?

In this connection, we have been talking about paying cleaners $1,000 since 2008 – “Full-time cleaners now earn about $1,000 a month on average, compared to about $750 before the (Town Councils’ cleaners’) scheme was launched in 2008” (“Cleaners’ pay up $250 to $1,000: Congratulations?“).

So many schemes in the last 8 years?

In the last eight years or so, we have had so many schemes and initiatives to raise cleaners’ pay to $1,000 (see below).

– ““Progressive wage concept initiative to raise the wages of cleaners” (“Measure wage targets in hourly pay, not gross total“, Jun 20, 2012)

“Unprecedented move by a group of officials from unions, cleaning companies and the Government would raise the pay of cleaners by 23 per cent” (Oct 19, 2012)

“Contracts would only be awarded to cleaning companies awarded the Clean Mark Accreditation” (“Parliament: Replies that never answer the question?“, Nov 14, 2012)

“The National Trades Union Congress ( NTUC) has set a target to raise 10,000 cleaners’ monthly salary to at least $1,000 by 2015″ (“NTUC: Wages need to account for standard of living?“, Dec 20, 2012)”

Wages fell from $1,277 to $1,200 in 15 years?

According to the article “Mindset change needed to help low-wage workers” (Straits Times, Feb 7, 2012), in 2000 – the median gross wage for cleaners and labourers was $1,277.

Real wage fell 30% in 15 years?

After accounting for inflation for the last 15 years or so, I estimate that in year 2000 dollars (June 2000 CPI 74.371), the $1,200 median gross pay now of cleaners is equivalent to only about $896 in 2000 dollars. So, what this may mean is that the real pay of cleaners has declined by about 30 per cent in the last 15 years (June 2015 CPI 99.67) or so.

All cleaners have to wait until 2020?

With regard to “those employed by the same business for at least 12 months will get an annual bonus, equivalent to two weeks of basic monthly pay, from 2020” – why do cleaners have to wait for another three years, in order to get an annual bonus of two weeks “from 2020”?

Hardly any real increase from 2020 to 2022?

In respect of “The TCC also recommended a 3 per cent annual increase to wages from 2020 to 2022” – since I understand that historical inflation in Singapore is about 2.5 per cent – does it mean that cleaners may be getting hardly any real increase from 2020 to 2022?

A decent pay for cleaners?

Finally, when we say that “Median gross wages grew by 12 per cent from 2012 to last year, and were $1,200 in June 2015” – the take-home pay of cleaners after the maximum 20 per cent employee CPF contribution maybe only be about $960.

1st world country – 3rd world labour policies? 

Why are we a so called first-world country that arguably, still continues to have third-world labour policies!

And when will lower-income Singaporeans get a decent pay?

What about the pay of part-time cleaners?

In this connection, since the above statistics are for full-time cleaners – a part-time cleaner who had her holiday trip to Japan cancelled recently because of the closure of the travel agency – only earned about $250 a month!