HDB estates are cleaner now after the 14 People's Action Party town councils decided in April last year not to simply award cleaning contracts to the lowest bidder.
Their coordinating secretary, Mr Albert Teng, said cleaners are more motivated, contractors are on the ball about meeting standards, and residents who once complained now offer compliments.
Labour chief Lim Swee Say saw some of the cleaners at work yesterday at the Holland Drive area.
He was briefed earlier about the town councils' best-sourcing initiative, in which contracts are awarded based not just on price, but also on quality and the performance of the bidder.
The upshot of such a move is that contractors see more value in upgrading the skills of their workers. More than 700 of their workers have undergone nationally certified training as cleaners.
Their pay has risen to $1,000 a month, from $750 previously. They also receive contributions into their Central Provident Fund accounts.
But such changes come at a cost: The average tender price has gone up by 10 per cent to 15 per cent. This reflects a more realistic price for the required standard of cleanliness, noted Mr Teng.
He did not think that residents would have to pay higher service and conservancy charges as town councils are finding other ways to keep a lid on maintenance costs.
Source: Straits Times, 18 July 2009