THE job pays a monthly salary of $3,000 but those who take up dishwashing quit soon after they discover how tough it can be.

This is the observation of Sakae Sushi chief Douglas Foo, who said his restaurant chain's advertisement on social-networking site Facebook for dishwashers, with the pay highlighted, is not a marketing gimmick.

The company has about 30 dishwashers who earn this sum. They work nine hours a day, six days a week. Their monthly wage is what Sakae Sushi also pays managers and supervisors.

Although they are given medical benefits and annual leave, Mr Foo admits that there is little chance of promotion for dishwashers, as each outlet requires only one or two such staff.

"Yes, the salary is high but look, it's a tough job. You stand on your feet, work weekends and it's dirty and wet. Our crew earn less but they get a chance to move up or move out. Most dishwashers don't," he noted.

Mr Foo said he is looking for Singaporeans and permanent residents. "If we can hire a local guy, why not? I'd rather we do this than rely on a foreigner."

At $3,000 a month, dishwashers at Sakae Sushi - who first wash dishes by hand before stacking them into mechanical washers - earn about three times what their counterparts elsewhere get.

The median monthly pay for dishwashers, according to the Manpower Ministry, is $930.

Assistant director of human resources for foodcourt operator Kopitiam, Ms Gina Chua, said a combination of factors make it difficult to hire dishwashers. They include the nature of the work, reactions from the job seeker's families and stiff competition among food outlets for staff.

She added that Kopitiam also faces a dishwasher shortage even though it has tie-ups with agencies like community development councils to publicise openings.

It offers dishwashers a monthly wage of about $1,200.

"We even arranged a shuttle bus to take those interested to work for us, from their neighbourhood to our outlets to have a look at what's in store for them. But in the end, there was no need for the bus because there were so few people," she said.

Other companies are also dangling higher pay to hire staff.

Singapore Business Federation chief operating officer Victor Tay cited the example of a logistics firm which paid drivers $4,800 a month to operate large lorries that transport raw materials to warehouses. But it too faced difficulties in hiring.

Crane operators can earn a monthly salary of about $4,000 with overtime, and this can go up to $6,500 as they gain experience.