Cuff Road Project 2011: ‘Company cases’ and overstayers

Posted by on January 14, 2012 in Articles, Facts, research, analysis

A worker approaching Transient Workers Count Too for help at our free meals programme would have his case catergorised as a “Company case” if the source of his difficulty is the behaviour of his employer. The most common misdeed would be to delay payment of salaries or to undercalculate.

Other misdeeds that we see regularly include unreasonable deductions or outright scams in which a worker is brought in on a promise of a job which either does not exist or is quickly extinguished.

Workers would have paid a significant sum to obtain the job, with a biggish portion of that flowing to agents and employers, and and such behaviour by the latter is exploitative in the extreme.

Bangladeshi workers suffer disproportionately from company cases. TWC2 is not clear why this pattern exists. It may have to do with the tendency for Bangladeshis to work for smaller companies or that the web of unethical companies tying up with Bangladeshi agents is just more developed.

Sri Lankans do not figure in the above graph at all. This is because this group generally do not have formal work permits in the first place. They tend to arrive in Singapore on social visit (tourist) passes and then find work; this is illegal. Naturally, given the limited duration of social visit passes, there is the attempt to overstay. This pattern of migration shows up in the next graph, that of “Overstay cases”:

The numbers in the above graph represent only people who arrived on tourist passes. They come to us after they’ve been caught, jailed, caned (sometimes), and released for the police to pursue the investigation into the illegal deployment or the harbouring of an illegal alien — what the men call ‘boss case’ and ‘house case.’

Not included in the above graph are those workers who stayed beyond the expiry of their work passes. At TWC2, we do not call them “overstayers”. They may find themselves overstaying because their work permit was cancelled — sometimes, their employers did not even inform them that their permits were being canclled.  The guys whose employers cut the work permit without their knowledge  (i.e. not in the graph above) don’t get jailed, though they may get fined or detained a short while, and then put on Special Passes to pursue their injury or salary claims. Out of the thousands, TWC2 has only ever come across two guys who overstayed after the WP expired to stay on and work.

See also:

Cuff Road Project 2011: Meals and nationalities

Cuff Road Project 2011: Types of cases seen

Cuff Road Project 2011: Injured workers’ length of stay

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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