Someone said – Cheap hawker food comes at a social cost
While it is understandable that many Singaporeans treasure the rich heritage of our hawker centres, many may not have noticed that hawker centres are an anachronism for a high-income country like Singapore. Most high-income countries have street hawkers at some point of their history but abundant cheap, cooked food is becoming a relic. Hong Kong, a city very similar to Singapore, does not have many street hawkers or hawker centres left. Most have moved up the value chain to mid-priced cafes.
Hawker centres require a large number of auxiliary workers such as stall helpers, cleaners and dishwashers. In order to keep costs down, the wages of these auxiliary workers will have to be kept low.
One may argue that hawker centres are necessary to provide cheap food to the lower-income group. However, we need to distinguish between providing cheap food and cheap cooked food. It is always cheaper and healthier to cook one’s meal. Without hawker centres, the lower-income group could just choose the better option.
Therefore, while I agree that it is important to preserve our food heritage and its authenticity, it may not necessarily mean that it should be through the hawker centres in their present form.
Then another one said – Hawker centres important for people with fewer means
I was disturbed by the letter “Cheap hawker food comes at a social cost” (April 13). Obviously the author must be a person of fair means.
Yes, it is cheaper for most of us to prepare our food at home. But various reasons prevent certain groups of people from doing so.
And for those of fewer means who may wish to eat out to celebrate an occasion or have a good time, food at such centres may also be the only place they can afford.
That said, a solution should be found to address the low wages of workers who work at hawker centres. I am sure the Government will be able to address this issue without depriving the less privileged of an affordable dining option.
Labour MP Zainal Sapari said – Progressive Wage Model helps protect cleaners
We refer to the letter “Food court managements need to pay cleaning staff better” (April 11).
The Tripartite Cluster for Cleaners believes that cleaners should be paid fairly for the work they do, with opportunities for wage increases that are commensurate with their skills and productivity.
For example, food and beverage establishments such as hawker centres and food courts must pay their general cleaners entry-level basic wages of at least S$1,000 a month.
The PWM also provides a pathway for cleaners to progress to higher wages as they become better skilled, work more effectively or take on more responsibilities. Supervisors, for example, will receive starting wages of S$1,600 a month.
With the mandatory PWM, employers must find ways to help their cleaners achieve better skills and higher productivity so that they can earn higher wages and meet higher cleaning standards. Employers can actively encourage training, improve job processes, consider more efficient manpower deployment methods and invest in technology.
Initiatives such as having a centralised dishwashing area shows how some hawker centres are making jobs easier, smarter and safer for our cleaners and we encourage employers to make full use of available grants to implement such productivity initiatives. With this, we strongly urge employers to share their productivity gains with their cleaners through higher wages.
Our cleaners play a critical role in maintaining a high standard of public hygiene, and the PWM will not only motivate them in their work, but also ensure inclusive growth for them.
If cleaners’ salary were to be raise to $2500-$3000 per month. Are you able to accept average hawker food price at $7.00?
What say you?