The salaries of airport trolley handlers have been nearly doubled from last month, as part of the labour movement's efforts to bump up the pay of low-wage outsourced contract workers.
The 240 airport trolley handlers had their monthly pay bumped up from about $580 to as much as $1,000, depending on their work attendance and performance.
These workers, who are mostly in their 50s to 70s, will also have their employment benefits, like seven days of annual leave and medical claims, clearly spelt out in their contracts. Previously, these benefits were agreed on verbally.
Besides earning more money, trolley handlers will also get more training to pick up new skills, so they can rise up the career ladder.
The recent moves are part of the National Trades Union Congress' (NTUC) progressive wage model, which sets out a career ladder with pay standards for low-wage workers in various sectors. Currently, about a fifth of 6,000 outsourced contract workers under airport operator Changi Airport Group are on the NTUC's wage scheme.
The move comes a month after labour chief Lim Swee Say proposed that all cleaning companies follow national wage guidelines to be licensed, so as to help cleaners' pay move up and keep pace with inflation.
NTUC assistant secretary-general Cham Hui Fong said yesterday that the labour movement is working with other companies to improve the salaries and job opportunities of other airport outsourced contract workers like baggage handlers and aircraft interior cleaners.
She said the NTUC started with trolley handlers first because they are "the first touch points for tourists".
As part of stepped-up training efforts to help workers provide better customer service, they can improve their command of English and familiarise themselves with the technology that will be used to streamline the trolley retrieval process.
The new skills will also allow the trolley handlers to learn how to manage people when they become supervisors and managers, who will oversee teams that are in charge of some 10,000 trolleys at Changi's three terminals.
Ms Cham said there will be more opportunities to climb the ranks as Singapore builds another two more airport terminals.
Mr Lim Poo Hong, 69, said the bigger monthly pay packet will help him with his expenses, which can go up to $1,000 a month. An airport trolley handler since 2009, the father of four married children lives alone in a four-room Hougang flat. "At least now with a little more cash in hand, I don't have to ask my son for money, which can make me feel bad."