Written Reply by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, to Parliamentary Question on Displacement of Workers from Implementation of Policy on Self-clearing of Utensils
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment with the implementation of the new regulation on self-clearing of plates and utensils in hawker centers and food courts (a) whether there is an estimate on potentially displaced workers as a result; and (b) whether there are plans for assisting the transition of such workers.
1 The Clean Tables Campaign was launched in February 2021 to raise public hygiene standards at public dining places and encourage tray and crockery return.
2 Even as diners clear their used trays and crockery, cleaners remain essential in maintaining the general cleanliness and hygiene of dining places. The National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) have been working with stakeholders such as the Environmental Management Association of Singapore, cleaning companies, coffeeshop and food court operators, to revise their table-cleaning workflow by having split cleaners to sort and clear used crockery at tray and crockery return points, as well as to wipe and sanitise tables. The COVID-19 pandemic has in fact increased the demands on cleaners, with the heightened requirements to ensure higher levels of public hygiene.
3 NEA and SFA have been reminding cleaning contractors and operators that cleaners play an important role in the revised cleaning workflow. The Clean Tables Campaign is not a valid reason to lay off cleaners.