With the focus on AI, data analysis and automation, many SMEs in the cleaning industry are finding it harder and harder to survive, even without the competition they face from moonlighting foreign domestic workers (FDWs). These FDWs, usually provide part-time cleaning services, usually at a very attractively low prices.
One such business owner, Sekaran Rengiah, of PinkMaids.sg, disapproves of such practices, and blames the moonlighting FDWs for his predicament. What these maids are doing, Sekaran points out, is illegal. There are also those who come here on social visit passes, or on student passes, and moonlight illegally as part-time cleaners.
He is not wrong. Under local employment laws, those working on an S-Pass or a work permit are not allowed to moonlight and face hefty punishments, if they are found doing so. These may be fined or even imprisoned.
There is indeed a market for cheap cleaning services which are of quality. Singaporeans are usually busy and away from their homes for most of the working week. They do not have the energy to deal with the mess at home but just shower and go to bed.
These illegal workers are meeting the demand, and fulfilling a need. Who can blame them? You can't blame the customers either.
It is left to the authorities to manage the problem. MOM and other agencies need to carry out better policing and adopt stricter enforcement regimes to clamp down on such illegal services.
On the other hand, cleaning companies should also take stock of their capabilities and review their products and services. They can look into automating some cleaning process, or use more environmentally friendly tools and products that do not harm their users, and the clients, to stay ahead of the competition.
The writer, Faith, is OCD.