Yesterday, during the Budget debate in Parliament, Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Walter Theseira brought up the need for the Government to intervene and raise wages for workers such as cleaners and security guards.
If anything, the Covid-19 outbreak has shown us that current market-determined salaries of workers such as cleaners and security workers no longer match the value that they provide to society.
Cleaners are the ones who are subjected to risks on a daily basis and yet tirelessly clean up after us and contribute greatly by keeping us safe. Security guards are also on the frontlines of Covid-19 as they are the ones charged with safeguarding not only us but also ensuring that those who are quarantined do not sneak out. Apart from a nod of approval and thanks from us, I do believe that more can be done to show our support and love for this group of everyday heroes. I agree that their wages should be increased to acknowledge their work, especially since their workload has now increased substantially due to the outbreak.
Similarly, Labour MP Mr Zainal Sapari called for the expansion of the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) and urged the Government to support industry stakeholders who are keen to adopt PWM. This enables more workers to enjoy better wages, upskill and increase their productivity.
A common culprit that causes the wages of such workers to be suppressed is due to unfair clauses in their employment contracts and companies that offer clients unreasonably cheap contracts by “undercutting” these workers’ salaries.
To better protect these workers, Mr Zainal also urged the Manpower Ministry or the Tripartite Alliance for Dispute Management to start a watch list and look into these companies.
I don’t know about you, but I am definitely hoping that the Government will do more for this group of people, perhaps even give them a special bonus in lieu of the Covid-19 situation.
So next time you see your friendly cleaning or security guard aunty or uncle, please don’t forget to pause to say a simple “hi” and thank them for their efforts.