FOR cleaning firm Ramky Cleantech Services, raising productivity was not just about making workers become more efficient.

It was also about changing their work environment and helping them get better wages doing a job that many Singaporeans shun.

The company, which employs about 1,200 cleaners, has several $20,000 scrubbing machines to make it easier for cleaners like Mr Arif Jumaat, 39, to do their work more efficiently.

The firm's director, Mr Milton Ng, said: "We know that it's hard to mop an entire floor of say 10,000 sq ft. Quality may also not be consistent. The machine makes it less physically demanding and raises the quality of work."

At One Marina Boulevard, which the firm services, it has brought in two scrubbing machines. It has also put in a wash station, which stores detergent, mops and equipment, at every level. This allows cleaners to shuttle between toilets quickly without having to lug a big trolley along.

"This means that cleaners will be able to clean the toilets more frequently, raising productivity," he said.

The result? Wages for its cleaners have moved up from $840 to above $1,000.

But while better productivity has helped secure the wage increments, the firm has also passed on the bulk of the higher costs to clients.

"Clients also realise that no one wants to work for below $1,000. So they accept the higher costs," said Mr Ng.