Cuff Road Project 2011: Types of cases seen

Posted by on January 10, 2012 in Articles, Facts, research, analysis

Slightly over half the cases that come to us at Transient Workers Count Too’s free meals programme come with one or more injuries. Almost all these injuries were sustained at work. A small number would have been the result of a traffic accident while the men were on board a company vehicle ferrying the workers to or from work. Under Singapore law, such injuries are considered to be in the same class as workplace injuries. Once in a while, we see workers hurt from being beaten by their employers or supervisors.

The second most common category is broadly described as “Company cases”, a shorthand that TWC2 uses to indicate that the source of a worker’s difficulty is the behaviour of his employer. Within this term there is considerable variety, including:

  • salaries unpaid (most common);
  • dishing out “loans” instead of wages, so that employers can recall the loans later;
  • deductions for real and imaginary things:
  • clawback of money for levies, agent fees:
  • workers not assigned any work, and then not paid for those days;
  • farming workers out to other employers;
  • forged or forced signatures on documents;
  • declaring bankruptcy and closing down without settling arrears in salaries;
  • work permit scams (bringing in a worker on promise of a job, collecting fees from him, and then leaving him high and dry).

The length of the above list simply illustrates the wretched fact that TWC2 has seen companies use every which way to cheat.

We also see a fair number of men whose difficulty stems mainly from their immigration status; they are classed as “Overstay” cases — guys who overstay their social visit (tourist) passes to work. There’s usually little TWC2 can do for them. If they overstay by more than 90 days they are jailed and caned.

Note: In the above bar chart, the shorter bars represent the new cases that came to us in the month. The taller bars represent the total number of registrants who received a meal card from us during that month — this includes new cases of that month and a large number of roll-over cases from previous months. A number such as “244/73” means there were 73 new cases of that type and 244 total cases of that type.

“Miscellaneous” would be all those who don’t fit into any of the above categories. Occasionally we may see an undocumented person, or a worker who is under investigation for some possible offence, but meanwhile stuck here with neither work nor means of sustenance. We’ve even seen workers caught in a limbo because they have witnessed a fight, and are somehow kept here, unable to go home.

It should be borne in mind that sometimes cases come with more than one complaint. An injured worker may also have been unpaid for several months. The classification used to generate the above graph has necessarily to be a rough and ready one.

A total of 1,458 persons (“new cases”) came to The Cuff Road Project in 2011:

A follow-up article will show how long injured workers tend to stay on TWC2’s Cuff Road Project.

See also:

Cuff Road Project 2011: Meals and nationalities

Cuff Road Project 2011: Injured workers’ length of stay

Cuff Road Project 2011: ‘Company cases’ and overstayers

Keywords: The Cuff Road Project, TCRP, soup kitchen, free meals, statistics, graph, graphs, salary, injury, percentage.

TWC2 is an organization that is dedicated to assisting low-wage migrant workers when they are in difficulty. We are motivated by a sense of fairness and humanity, though our caseload often exceeds our
means.

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