MP Zainal Sapari urges firms to give proper rest areas to low-wage workers
A cleaner rests in a corner of an open area of a building during his lunch break, almost hidden behind stacks of equipment.
Landscape maintenance workers for a major shopping mall in the west have to loiter around a nearby MRT station when they rest. They are asked to keep their personal belongings and supplies at the mall's basement carpark.
These negative examples were raised by National Trades Union Congress assistant secretary-general Zainal Sapari in a LabourBeat.org blogpost he wrote on Wednesday, highlighting a bugbear of his - the lack of proper rest areas for outsourced, low-wage workers.
While he lauded organisations like JTC Corporation which took steps to take care of these workers, Mr Zainal, a Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP, said there are building owners who ought to be ashamed of themselves.
He wrote in the post titled Where Can I Rest?: "Most companies provide good, proper rest areas for their permanent employees.
"Unfortunately, the provision of rest areas by service buyers or building owners for their cleaners, security officers and landscape maintenance workers is uncommon.
"Many of these outsourced service workers have no choice but to accept whatever nook or corner, albeit undesirable, as their rest areas."
Mr Zainal appealed to the public to check with their companies, management or building owners to ensure that proper designated rest areas are provided, urging government agencies and bodies to take the lead.
He also renewed the call he made during the Committee of Supply debate in Parliament earlier this month for the Urban Redevelopment Authority to discount rest areas from the gross floor area of buildings and waive the associated development charge if building owners carve them out.
Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Zaqy Mohamad said in the debate that the Ministry will look into what companies are doing to give workers access to proper rest areas.