Rest Areas for Lower-Wage Workers in Singapore (AfA)

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Solve n+1, is working together with other impact organisations and individuals on an Alliance for Action (AfA) project for Lower-Wage Workers (LWWs). This AfA is done with the support of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). More about the AfA can be found here. The AfA for LWWs has identified 4 challenges areas concerning LWWs. They include: wages, work environments, dignity, and training.The project that Solve n+1 co-leads, with support from other AfA participants aims to address the work environments of the lower wage workers.We are doing two things:


1.    A guidebook on sustainable rest areas.
The guidebook aims to enable ethical-friendly building owners establish sustainable rest areas for the LWWs they employ or contract. It is developed by the AfA team through research and interviews with employers and LWWs. It considers various budgets and space permutations that employers may have, as well as addresses other key considerations.

2.   Co-creating with ethical property developers to build a working prototype  rest areas for their LWWs such as cleaners and security officers.

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Translated text: 

𝐀𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐀𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 (𝐀𝐟𝐀) 𝐬𝐮𝐠𝐠𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐬 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐩𝐩𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐌𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐈𝐦𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐯𝐞 𝐑𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐀𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐋𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 𝐖𝐚𝐠𝐞 𝐖𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐞𝐫𝐬

Lower-wage workers (LWWs) in the retail sector do not usually have a designated rest area at their places of work. This is especially inconvenient for workers employed in the Central Business District who pre-pack meals and are unable to heat them up without a microwave.

To improve the welfare of these workers, the AfA for LWWs team came up with a recommendation to design a plan for shopping centres and facility managers of shopping centres to provide rest areas & basic necessities for lower-wage retail staff within the mall.

The AfA held their fifth work group (virtual press conference on zoom) with seven different work groups providing their recommendations. The person in charge of rest areas, Lewin Low (26 year old, from Solve n+1), pointed out that many of the shopping centre facility managers would like to help the LWWs, but do not know where to start.

The team collected feedback from stakeholders involved, and worked with enterprises and construction companies that built these rest areas, consulting them to find out what was needed. Their research informed them of the LWWs’ essential needs, which includes the provision of microwaves, lockers, water dispensers, tables, chairs and good ventilation.

The team also engaged youth from schools to be involved in the designing of these rest areas. Alliance member, Campus Impact Director, (Elysa Tan) points out that it is important to work with youths as they will be the ones to sustain and continue the project. These youths will have the capability to create impact if we can change their mindsets and behaviours.

The Alliance for LWWs involved 50 partners from the Business sector, Grassroot organisations, and Unions. The final meeting will be conducted next month, where the members will present their plans and recommendations to actualise and execute the plans with private and public partners.

Senior minister of State, Zaqy Mohamad, having seen the progress of the alliance since they began work in march, was deeply encouraged. He states “Both the industry and consumers have the ability to support LWWs. This will help elevate our workers and society as a whole and help build a better Singapore for the future.”

Apart from providing rest areas for LWWs, other recommendations/plans include increasing awareness of workers in the essential services, and pushing out the progressive wage markto help consumers recognise businesses that support LWWs.

Zaqy Mohamad also responded to the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Managing Director’s (Mr Ravi Menon) call for a modest minimum wage model for LWWs. Senior MoS responded by saying that the government does not oppose his recommendations, and have not ruled out any possibilities, but will look into this further to find out which approach is suitable for the nation.

It is important to consider whether the measures will cause LWW to lose their jobs, and whether they are sustainable (referring to Mr Ravi Menon's suggestions.)

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