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Learn how to be more considerate!
Sunday, July 6, 2014 | 3:31 PM | 0 comments

Whenever I see a huge group sitting at the hawker center, I can only imagine what a chore it would be to the cleaning auntie or uncle. But surprisingly, most of the cleaning personnel will always carry on with their jobs with a smile across their faces. I wonder how often they receive a thank you, a smile or a helping hand from a patron to reduce the table’s mess. 

It is very simple to be ignorant to our very own surroundings. Little do we know, we might just be adding more work to someone’s hard and tiring day. Something somewhat minor such as dropping a tissue paper onto the ground may seem harmless – but what if everyone did it too? It would lead to an even bigger mess, which means extra work for the cleaning workers. If people don’t take the initiative to help out even just a bit, the mess will just keep on compiling.


Above that, there are always unappreciative scumbags around, who take these cleaners for granted, and EXPECT them to clean up whatever crap the previous customer left behind IMMEDIATELY, or those who say if they clean up after themselves, cleaners won’t have a job. It's maddening and blinding to witness such a situation.

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I have a huge guilty conscience – I need to at least finish up the food on my plate, and after I’m done, I would try to arrange the plates and cutleries in a manner where it would be so much easier for the cleaning uncles and aunties to clean up. And plus, nobody wants to touch a stranger’s leftovers even though it’s just food.. But it still looks disgusting for some reason. I’m just afraid that if we leave a big enough mess, it will take time for the cleaner to clean it up, and while they clean up, maybe another table is messy and full of leftovers as well. These leftovers while unattended will of course be a free buffet to all the pesky pests lurking within the vicinity. And have I mentioned that I truly hate COCKROACHES LIKE EEWWWW?!?!?!

Everyone should pick up this new habit where upon putting their food on the table, eat it along with the tray, so that once they are done eating it, they could simply go to the nearest tray returning area and dispose their leftovers. It would take up about 20 seconds and a few muscle movements to do so. And I know for a fact that the cleaning uncles and aunties would definitely appreciate it deeply. Just be reminded that the cleaners are humans too and they certainly have feelings too.


I understand spilling and dirtying the table could be rather inevitable, especially if you're eating something with crumbs or sauces, but take a look at this. Not only is it repulsive, it makes my tummy churn just by the look of it!!! 

What if you were made to clean this up? Let's be honest, I believe at least 80% of the people wouldn't be brave enough to do so, especially if you weren't the one who consumed the food. Yet, these cleaners have to endure the stench and dirt, just so that people like us, could enjoy our meal. 


Our cleaners are also one of the lowest paid workers in Singapore, because premise owners tend to pick the cheapest cleaning company, forcing cleaners’ salaries down (sometimes even with pay cut)!

It took years of lobbying by the National Trades Union Congress to get these cleaners legally entitled to a Progressive Wage Model from 1 September 2014, where cleaning companies have to plan a career path for their cleaners, or lose their business licence.


Instead of being stuck at one job role at the same low pay their entire lives, cleaners will get opportunities to upskill, raise their productivity and climb up a proper career ladder, with the lowest pay starting from $1000 a month (most cleaners get $800+ a month now).

To those who keep on asking for minimum wage, isn’t Progressive Wage a better option, unless you wish your cleaner to always be stuck at minimum wage for life?

As customers, doing our part to keep litter to a minimum is easy, but it does take vigilance. Deep down, we all know that part of keeping the environment clean has to be contributed on our end as well. There are only so many cleaners, if we don't help them out, eventually, we would all have to suffer from the repercussions, and live in a filthy environment.

At the end of the day, we’re all living in the same country. I just hope for more people to be aware of the hard working cleaners cleaning up after us almost everyday, and understand more about their situation before judging or taking advantage of them. They have a job to do, so the least we could do is help lighten their workload, and share a couple of smiles here and there to cheer them up. A happy cleaner will lead to a happier and cleaner place.

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