The Cuff Road Food Programme is Transient Workers Count Too’s signature project. It provides free meals to migrant workers six days a week when they are injured or otherwise out of work and destitute. It also offers an important contact point between the organisation and those in need of help. Workers not only get nourishment, they get a consultation about their cases and a friendly ear.
In 2013, we served 105,553 meals, a 3.7 percent increase over the 101,819 meals served the previous year. By the end of 2013, we have served 467,720 meals since the project began in March 2008.
The first chart shows the number of meals TWC2 served each week through 2013. The lowest week was the second week of September when we served 1,402 meals. The highest was the third week of June, with 2,503 meals. We averaged 2,030 meals a week through 2013.
Click the chart for a larger version.
Registrants & type of case
Each month, we re-register all our participants. Thus, the first table below shows the total registered each month — which would include both new cases and cases that have registered with us previously, but are still around because their cases have not yet been resolved. Naturally, cases that have been concluded and the men gone home, would not re-register the subsequent month.
The second table shows only new, first-time registrants. Last year (2013), 2,202 new registrants signed up with the Cuff Road Project. This is a 1.7 percent increase over the 2,165 new registrants in 2012. However, in 2013, a larger proportion of registrants were injury cases — 81.3 percent, compared with 70.3 percent in 2012. Thus, the number of new injury cases coming to us in 2013 was 17.6 percent higher last year (1,791 cases in 2013, compared with 1,523 the previous year). This is not a good trend.
See also the related post, At the Cuff Road Project, injury cases more than doubled 2013 over 2011.
The next most common category (about 24 percent) 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;
- illegally farming workers out to other employers;
- forged or forced signatures on documents;
- declaring bankruptcy and closing down without settling arrears in salaries;
- not paying the government levy, forcing MOM to cancel the work permit;
- 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.
The above tables are shown graphically below:
Click for a larger version:
How long since their injury?
In the case of injured workers, each month we record how long it has been since their injury. Because we re-register participants (at least who are still in Singapore) for meal cards each month, the same man may appear over several bars (months). The bars should not be totalled together; it wouldn’t make any sense.
Do note however, that the Y-axis does not go down to zero in the chart below:
What the pattern in the above chart shows is that in a typical month,
- 46 to 95 injured men who get that month’s meal card from us would have been waiting at least 12 months since his injury. The monthly average is 70 men, which makes up about 14 percent of the average 494 injured men who register for meals each month.
- Of these, 5 to 11 men in each month would have been waiting more than 24 months since their accident.
They show how lengthy the process of physical recovery and injury compensation can be.
It should also be noted that the Work Injury Compensation Act sets a cut-off at 12 months for medical leave wages and medical expenses. These men whose cases extend beyond 12 months are therefore bereft of medical care and income support.