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Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Those of you who have lived in Singapore will understand what I am talking about. Efficiency drives are everywhere. Sometimes it is so efficient, it all happens and end without you noticing. I experience some of these yesterday in the food centre. I was enjoying my bowl of noodles. Then halfway, I got up to go to the wash basin. Just less than 10 seconds and the cleaners took my bowl away.
Food centres should train their cleaners that efficiency and honesty are not enough. Instead, they should be looking out to serve customers, rather than bent on completing their task.
I found this funny video on YouTube. Enjoy!



Anonymous said...

On food center cleaner's service and efficiency, a friend and I had a rather heated discussion on it. He argued that the cleaner's service must be improved and prove a better service with a smile. I commented that the average cleaner's salary is around $200-$450 (verbal based on a few auntie's wages from suntec to neighbourhood food centre) They work around 8-12hours, each wage differ based on agreement on the sub-contractor (cleaning). Now cleaning contracts are based on competitive bidding process, and these are later handled out to cheaper sub-contractors who in turn pay these aunties and uncles even less pay. Because of MOM laws for Foreign worker (FW), where the average pay has to be around $400-500 with levy, the FW gets around $300, meals and lodging provided depending on contract terms with their agents to these sub-con. To compete with these FW, the aunties/uncles are willing to be paid even less.. around $300 or less, no meals/lodging. work average of 8-12hours a day, most work 10hour shifts. Now with such min. wage, and long hours, would you be able to still service demanding customers with a smile? Won't such good service come with better incentive, like better pay to survive the rising cost of living in singapore? These poor workers are living in such terrible conditions! Now My friend's good answer was purely simple: 'Thats not my problem, I don't care how much they are paid, they are paid whatever they are paid, i demand good service even at hawker centres, and they better do a good job!'
Have a heart Singaporeans...

Ronnie Ng said...

Most of my Korean friends find the cleaner's act of clearing the tray while customers are still at their table an act of "disrespect" and "being rude", it's like asking them to leave. While I can appreciate the act of clearing dishes as a way to control customer traffic and improve customer turnover, I do somewhat agree with the Koreans that such acts tend to affect the customer's eating experience adversely. I think food court operators should have faith and trust in singaporean customers that they'd take their leave upon finishing their food if they see that the foodcourt is crowded and that someone else is looking for a seat.

Otherwise, at a time when the foodcourt isn't crowded, there's obviously no point in being so anxious to clear the dishes as to spoil the customers' experience.

jupilier said...

It is sad to hear of such exploitations in a rich country like Singapore, that is why I always thank them whenever they clear my plates (when they are done at the right time) :). It is my bit to acknowledge their presence and their service. Usually they appear too depressed even to hear what I say. Sometimes, they even mistook that I wanted to order for more drinks.

Nevertherless, I wonder why they are so eager to clear our plates. Is it because they will be reprimanded by their supervisors otherwise. There are lowly paid cleaners in other countries, some even paid lower than in Singapore (that's why they are here), but they don't clear my plates before I finish my meals. In fact, my problem is that they don't clear the plates at all! :)

Anonymous said...

the old aunties and uncles are so pitiful. they should be at home enjoying their retirement instead of working as cleaners and serving others. please be nicer to them.

jupilier said...

Personally, I think it is ok for old folks to work, as long as they want to and not 'have-to' to make ends meet. From conversations with the cleaners at random, it appears that most of them 'need-to', financially. For a country with a huge reserve like Singapore, there is definitely something ineffective in how and where our money flows to.

Miss Loi said...

Food centres aside, it's definitely unforgiveable when waiters/waitresses do this in restaurants.

Anonymous said...

I'm stocked. Stocked because of the polarized perspective already is taking up here. The wages are menial and the fellow is just doing his job. Koreans can think of it as disrespectful or America can think our 'community before self' Asian value is ridiculous, for all I care. At the end of the day we've got our own culture, we are allowed perspectives. And if I were in the hawker centre with an old lady earning only so much, I'd think it be best I shut my mouth. That Dim Sum Dolly skit looks funny on one hand but for me its a knife in the heart to those concerned. A disgrace, audience laughing away at situations we should care for rather than mock.

jupilier said...

Dear Stocked Anonymous

Views vary and it is fine as long as there is no malice at heart. The skit is just a good laugh at how Singapore value efficiency above everything else, not kicking the aunties and uncles in the butt.

Koreans get better service because their cleaners are paid much more. They don't take foreign labour so liberally as Singapore does. That brings costs down, as the cold macro-economists will tell you.

My view is that these aunties are paid too low. Should costs be cut, it should be the rent. They form the bigger bulk of overall costs. That's why I opine that the money flow is not watering the places that are bone-dry but flooding pockets that are already filled.