Jun 13, 2013

    Cleaners see no threat to their jobs

    AN ONLINE petition against the National Environment Agency's campaign to get diners at foodcourts and hawker centres to return their trays is gaining momentum.

    Since it was started on Facebook last month, the Say No To Tray Return Singapore webpage has amassed over 700 "likes" and drawn comments from netizens who said the campaign could cost the cleaners at such eateries their jobs.

    But at least 10 such cleaners My Paper spoke to at four foodcourts islandwide said they are not the least worried about such talk.

    They said that the campaign - which was piloted at nine hawker centres last year, and extended to 17 major foodcourt and fast-food operators last month - has helped to lighten their workload.

    Cleaner Chin Sam Moye, 70, who works at an NTUC Foodfare foodcourt in Ang Mo Kio, said: "It's been helpful, especially when it gets busy during lunch hours."

    Most of the cleaners, aged between 53 and 70, said they now have more time to perform other duties, such as cleaning tables and floors.

    One foodcourt My Paper went to did not have a tray-return system, but its cleaners still see its benefits.

    At the Food Republic foodcourt in Wisma Atria mall, cleaner Chen Tiang Huat, 66, said: "Working eight hours daily with four days off a month can get very it will definitely help."

    Mr Chen's colleagues share his view, even though they feel that "if everybody returns their trays, then there's no need for (cleaners)".

    At the foodcourt, My Paper spotted several patrons returning their trays to the cleaners' trolleys.

    The cleaners said that office workers and the elderly are the least likely to return their trays.

    The group that is most likely to return their trays tends to be younger patrons. Some cleaners observed that more women and foreigners returned trays.

    Patron Lim Kow Moy, 68, said she does not return her tray because of a knee condition, which makes it difficult for her to walk.

    The retired kindergarten teacher said: "I thank the cleaners when they come over to help me clear my tray."

    Patrons My Paper spoke to were not concerned about the online petition, as they felt that it is not a big deal.

    Accounts executive Avril Yean, 28, said: "It's ridiculous...returning your tray is a basic social etiquette.

    "You should clear your tray in public if you clear your plate at home."