Desmond Choo: Cleaning and Waste Management Companies Must Transform

Singapore will face even more dire manpower challenges without the better use of technology, believes the assistant secretary-general of NTUC.
By Ian Tan Hanhonn 06 Feb 2023

Businesses in the cleaning and waste management industries must urgently transform and capitalise on initiatives under the Environmental Services Industry Transformation Map (ES ITM) and the Jobs Transformation Map (JTM), said NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Desmond Choo.

One of the initiatives includes Outcome Based Contracting.

He was speaking at the second reading of the Environmental Public Health (Amendment Bill) on 6 February 2023 in Parliament.

The Bill has since been passed.

Mr Choo added that locals often shun the two sectors, and those already in the industry deserve better work prospects.

“Without the better use of technology, a rapidly ageing Singapore will face even more dire manpower challenges,” he said.

He added that the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), which will be implemented for the waste management sector from 1 July 2023, has been “a critical success in the ongoing work to improve the lives and livelihoods of locals” working in the industry.

“Our workers in the cleaning and waste management industries are clearly an indispensable part of our workforce. They are more than deserving of better wages and brighter prospects in the long term,” he said.

Mr Choo supported the Bill, adding that the amendments will help tackle the worsening issue of high-rise littering, future-proof the cleaning industry, and support the implementation of the Progressive Wage Model in the waste collection and materials recovery sub-sectors.

On the Revised Cleaning Business Licensing Framework

Mr Choo said the revised cleaning business licensing framework is a positive move.

The proposed new framework for cleaning business licensing merges the current cleaning business licensing and the voluntary Enhanced Clean Mark Accreditation Scheme. The new framework will take effect from 1 January 2024.

There will be three classes of licence with a two-year validity, of which two classes will have a new requirement for paid-up capital.

“The tiered licensing framework is a clear signal that we want companies to ready themselves with the right resources and practices to develop the workforce,” he said.

He proposed to allow holders of higher-class licences to bid for specific projects, thus creating the financial incentive for companies to upgrade.

“There might not be such a market for the higher-class licenses now, but we can start to create one by having the public sector commit to buying services from higher-class license holders for projects of a set monetary threshold,” he suggested.