Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday suggested that the Ministry of Labour prioritise getting workers any missing wages in cases where owners of factories disappear after going bankrupt.
Speaking to garment workers in Phnom Penh, Mr Hun Sen said the ministry should seek a budget from the Ministry of Finance to pay workers their dues first, and then move on to chasing the owners and selling off any assets left behind.
“We must not let the workers go without wages and begin protests,” he said. “The ministry must borrow or find a budget first from the Ministry of Finance to pay the workers and then focus on finding further solutions like selling assets.”
“Don’t let the problem of missing wages drag on and become a chronic disease,” he added.
The premier’s comments came after more than 1,000 workers from the Yu Da Garment, Yu Fa Garment and S.R.E Garment factories in Por Senchey district recently staged multiple protests when the owner of the factory disappeared.
Wages owed to staff were eventually partly paid after the Labour Ministry worked with unions and workers to sell assets left behind, mostly machinery in the factories, by the owner.
Mr Hun Sen added that the ministry should also aid workers abandoned by their employers in finding new jobs.
Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said workers should get in touch with the ministry if they thought their employer might flee the country without paying wages.
“Employers have escaped this year and in years before, but the ministry always finds solutions for the workers,” he said.
Toun Saren, general secretary of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said he supported the premier’s comments.
Mr Saren noted that in the recent case of the Yu Fa Garment factory, not all workers agreed to the selling of machinery to cover their wages because the money earned was not enough to pay them in full. They received 65 percent of their missing wages.
“Some workers are still waiting for their missing wages because of this,” he said.