2,500 PAP cleaners’ pay increase: What about 460,000 low-wage workers?


Terry Xu
2,500 PAP cleaners’ pay increase: What about 460,000 low-wage workers?

November 03

By Leong Sze Hian

2,500 PAP town councils’ cleaners increase pay by $200

I refer to the article “Conservancy workers at PAP town councils to get pay rise” (Channel NewsAsia, Nov 3).

It states that “ Conservancy workers at the 15 PAP Town Councils will soon be able to earn more under a progressive wage model salary structure. Under the new salary structure, the salary of cleaners will start from S$1,200 a month, up from an average of S$1,000 currently.”

“2,500 Singaporean cleaners engaged by 15 PAP town councils will get a pay raise and more skills training” (“Local cleaners under PAP town councils to get more pay and training“, Straits Times, Nov 3).

What about the other 69,000 cleaners?

As I understand that there are about 69,000 local cleaners, what has or are the PAP MPs going to do to raise their pay.

What about 460,000 low-wage workers?

In this regard, the median basic pay of office cleaners was only $800 according to media reports just a few days ago. On top of these low-wage cleaners, there are about 114,000 full-time workers earning less than $1,000 a month and about 460,000 full-time and part-time workers earning below $1,500 according to the latest available statistics. (Note: The Singapore labour statistics classifies those who work more than 35 hours a week as full-time workers – probably the “longest” part-time workers’ definition in the world)

It is perhaps even more ironic that there are so many labour MPs in Parliament who are supposed to focus on looking out for workers’ rights.

S & CC will increase?

Though the workers may rejoice over the increase of wages but residents may have to pay more for service and conservancy charges.

“Coordinating chairman of the PAP Town Councils, Dr Teo Ho Pin, said: “Definitely, when we improve our services to better serve our residents, the cost of maintenance will increase. So, at some point in time we will need to revise the S&C charges”

Accumulated surpluses transferred to sinking fund?

Under section 34 of the town councils’ act, all town councils’ accumulated surpluses transferred to the respective town councils’ sinking funds after the general elections (80 pr cent if the same political party wins and 100 per cent if a different party wins).


extract from Town Council Act

If not for this section 34, would the 15 town councils still have to increase conservancy charges now that the pay of 2,500 cleaners is being raised by just $200?

This works out to only about $6.5 million* more a year for all the 15 town councils, or about only $433,333 per town council?

In this connection, what was the total accumulated surpluses transferred to the sinking funds of all the town councils since the last general election?


*2,500 workers x $200 x 13 months =$6,500,000

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Written by Leong Sze Hian, Vivian Pan and Roy Ngerng

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.