Monday, 21 April 2014

New initiative to recognise low-wage workers for their contributions

By Chitra Kumar, Channel NewsAsia, 19 Apr 2014

The labour movement on Saturday launched a new social initiative that aims to generate greater care and respect for low-wage workers.

Called the U Appreciate Movement, it comes after discussions held last year raised several issues over the lack of respect and appreciation for this group of workers and their jobs.

The first to be appreciated will be some 30,000 low-wage workers in three sectors.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said the efforts of low-wage workers – those in the cleaning, security and landscape sectors – very often go unrecognised and under-appreciated.

The U Appreciate Movement will call for employers and the public to respect and appreciate their contributions.

The aim is not only to raise awareness of their contributions, but hopefully, to improve wages and working conditions.

Zainal Sapari, assistant secretary-general of NTUC, said: "This social movement is very, very important to change the mindset of the public, to make them acknowledge that the work done by these workers are very, very important in terms of our cleanliness, in terms of security, in general making lives more comfortable for us.

“If we can change the mindset of the public of the importance of the work done by these groups of workers, it will make our effort to improve their wages, improve their working conditions."

Workers welcomed such efforts.

Hamzaim Yusof, a landscape worker, said: "The public treat us well... they appreciate our jobs, and that's what we want and it satisfies us when somebody says 'hey, what a beautiful landscape you have done' and we appreciate that."

As a partner in the effort, the Singapore Labour Foundation has committed a S$2-million fund for companies to organise appreciation events, possible national-level awards to recognise outstanding workers and social media campaigns to engage the public.

More details will be provided at a later stage.

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