Garment workers seek PM’s help

Source: Khmer Times

Close to 500 garment workers from three factories in Phnom Penh’s Chbar Ampov district marched to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house yesterday armed with a petition urging the premier help them claim their unpaid wages.

The garment workers said their employer, a Chinese national, had fled the country without paying their December wages which has even resulted in some of them being evicted from their homes.

“There are 1,146 workers who were employed at the three factories owned by the same person, but all of us have yet to receive our December salary and in January, he fled,” 28-year-old Ol Vanna, one of the affected workers, told Khmer Times.

Ms. Vanna said she was unsure why her employer, who owned Pada Top World, Kbal Koh Garment and Top World Garment (Cambodia) factories, had abruptly left, but recalled that he would often tell the workers that he lacked the funds to pay their salaries.

“We want Samdech Hun Sen to help us find the owner and solve our problems by paying us our salary and if the factories end up closing, the owner must pay us all our benefits and seniority bonuses as stipulated in the Labor Law,” she said.

She added that the group was prompted to march to the prime minister’s home after previous marches to the Labor Ministry and the Council of Ministers bore no results.

Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union legal official Chhin Thea told Khmer Times yesterday that the union’s meeting with the Labor Ministry was also futile as one union representative did not agree to the proposed terms.

“The company representatives agreed to sell all their equipment in the factories to pay the workers, but one union refused because they wanted to solve the issue out of court,” Mr. Thea said of the four-hour long meeting.

He added that the ministry would not be able to act until all the unions came to a consensus.

“I do not know if we will discuss this again, but we will talk to the workers,” he said, adding that he was unaware of the name of the union that opposed the terms.

Factory owners fleeing the country without compensating their workers is a common occurrence in Cambodia, with at least half a dozen such cases last year alone involving hundreds of garment workers.

In September, the Ministry of Labor said it was preparing to enact regulations that would provide some amount of monetary relief to workers left in the lurch by factory owners who flee the country without giving workers advance notice or compensation.



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