Working Lives Singapore

Office cleaner Liew Siew Giok

Some time ago, 54-year-old Liew Siew Giok used to run her own cleaning business.

But it didn't quite work out.

Singapore Direct graphic

"I found it hard to recruit workers, if I couldn't find someone I had to do the work myself," she says.

Her children persuaded her to give up the business and find a less stressful job.

She chose to become an office cleaner and now earns about $960 (£600) a month - about a third of the average wage in Singapore.

Her day starts at 08:00. "Sweeping and washing up make up a lot of my work. There [are] so many cups," she says.

"I spend most of my time on my feet, I could walk somewhere really far with all the time I spend walking."

Despite the physical nature of her job, Liew Siew enjoys her work.

"It's like being part of a large family, we look after each other and every day I get to mix with different people," she says.

Home for Liew Siew is in a public housing development. Some 85% of Singaporeans live in this sort of accommodation.

She lives with her son, who owns the apartment, and her three-year-old grandson.

Until recently, Liew Siew could look forward to retiring but then the Singapore government raised the retirement age from 55 to 62.

"It seems like everyone is working forever," she says.

"The government encourage people to take more training and increase our knowledge so that we can find a better job."

Liew Siew is taking English language classes, and expects to be working for a few more years.

"For us old people our feet are a problem, if my feet won't do what I want then it'll be very hard. I'll keep working until my legs don't work, and then I'll retire," she says.

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