SINGAPORE: The labour movement has said that more than 18,000 workers in the hospitality and consumer business sectors have benefited from productivity improvements.
Since it launched the Inclusive Growth Programme in 2010 to encourage businesses to boost productivity, there have been 238 such projects across some 170 companies.
In the laundry department of Sheraton Towers Singapore, one shirt takes about a minute to get perfectly pressed.
Just a few months ago, it would have taken three people using different machines and some five minutes to complete the task.
But a machine which combines the three tasks in a single machine gets the job done in a fraction of the time, and requires only one person to operate it.
The machine is part of a S$1.3 million investment the hotel made earlier this year to upgrade its laundry machinery. This means that work is now easier and safer for its employees.
Alice Lim, a laundry operator at Sheraton Towers Singapore, said: "This machine is more safe, because when we touch this, it automatically stops, so we don't get hurt. If we use the old machine, sometimes if we are not careful, we hurt our hand..."
Union leaders, including labour chief Lim Swee Say, visited the hotel on Wednesday to learn more about its progressive work practices, which include implementing a Progressive Wage Model to attract Singaporean talent.
Adopting the wage model means that employees are paid a minimum monthly salary of S$1,200 and that there is a structured path for career progression opportunities at the executive level.
It also bolsters the hotel's existing efforts to build a Singaporean core. Singaporeans make up 69 per cent of Sheraton Towers' full-time workforce - above the industry's estimated average of 55 per cent.
Other progressive work practices the hotel has adopted included job redesign, which allowed it to create new positions with higher salaries to attract more Singaporean employees.
Yeo Guat Kwang, cluster lead of the Hospitality and Consumer Business Cluster at NTUC, said: "I think at the end of the day, it is very important that we must change the mindset, because many are more used to the way that they have been doing the job over the years. It is not just the rank and file but (also) the management.
"Definitely we can't make a U-turn to the foreign workers' policy. So I think we must actually respond by making up a good way forward by adopting more automation, as well as leveraging more on technologies."
Aside from making their jobs easier and safer, improved productivity also leads to better wages for workers.
The labour movement said that the wages across the some 170 companies improved by an average of 11 per cent. - CNA/nd/ms
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