Of cleaners, security personnel and other ‘invisible people’, what can we do?

By November 12, 2018Current

TL;DR – Are we all guilty?

TODAY released a pretty impressive series on Friday, 9 November 2018. Titled ‘We Are Not Invisible’, the series chronicles the daily lives of Madam Chua Oi Lin, a cleaner at Tan Boon Liat Building and Mr Surjeet Singh, a security officer of 20 years.

As the title of the series suggests, people usually do not greet them or even acknowledge their presence. Most simply walk past them without speaking to them, and they are not shown the respect they deserve or treated with dignity.

It’s quite heartwrenching really.

And what does the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) have to say about this?

In a Facebook post uploaded by Zainal Bin Sapari – or better known as the Labour MP who’s constantly championing for low wage workers – on Sunday 11 November, he says,

Here’s a quick summary,

1) Last year, there were 366,000 workers above 35 that were recipients of the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS). One quarter of them probably were working in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors.

2) NTUC has embarked on several initiatives such as the Inclusive Growth Programme, Progressive Wage Model, and Workfare Training Scheme to help them get better wages through skills upgrading and also started the ‘Appreciating U’ campaign in 2014 to encourage employers and service buyers to show appreciation to this group of workers.

3) It is also important that organisations treat them well in their day-to-day work by providing them with proper rest areas – make them feel that they belong to the organisation they are working for.

4) There is probably greater awareness today, but it is still a work in progress to make these invisible workers feel valued in their job.

5) As a society, we can probably do better. It’s not just about being rude or not looking up to them that makes them feel under appreciated. It is the simple act of not acknowledging their presence when we come into contact with them which can make them feel ‘small’ and ‘invisible’ that many of us are guilty of.

6) The Labour Movement will continue to champion for low-wage workers to help them have better wages, better skills and greater respect.

What do you think? What more can we as employers, passersby and society at large do?

(Cover image via TODAY)


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Flora Isabelle Lim

Author Flora Isabelle Lim

On a constant quest to be a really professional internet person.

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