Photo of Josephine Teo from The New Paper

In an announcement by the Second Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo yesterday (Jan 30), cleaning companies can now hire foreigners on part-time basis to work as cleaners in households without having to meet the foreign worker quota. According to media reports, the government has already sneakily started the one-year “pilot scheme” in September 2017 when the Presidential Election started, but there is no explanation why it was not announced.

The move will greatly benefit nationals from an approved list of 11 countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan (unbeknown to the ignorant minister on the diplomatic front, the move also contravened the One China Policy, as it recognises Taiwan as an independent state and bans mainland China nationals).

However, the influx foreign workers will flood the part-time cleaning industry with depressed wages, which is already as low as S$5 an hour for Singaporean part-time cleaners. The Manpower Ministry said it has not yet decided whether the Household Services Scheme (HSS) will continue after September 2018.

In 2011, the Singapore government started to tighten foreign employment quota to appease Singaporeans after jobs across all sectors saw severe pay depression and employment going to foreigners. The HSS however bypass the quota and allow companies to hire as many as they like.