Unions and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia expressed their appreciation to the government yesterday for announcing it would pay a cash advance to workers whose bosses escaped without paying their wages and bonuses.
The money will be distributed to workers beginning next week.
Speaking to more than 17,000 workers from eight factories in Kampong Speu province’s Samrong Tong district yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government was prepared to pay $4.6 million to 4,100 workers whose bosses ran away, meaning each worker would get about $1,100.
“I want all workers whose employers fled to know that the government will give them a cash advance. We have $4.6 million to pay those workers. We used to do it like this in the past,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen ordered the Labour Minister to give the money to workers as quickly as possible and solve the issue of missing employers afterwards.
“We have to distribute the money in the hands of those workers who do not have jobs first, and then we have to find jobs for them again,” said Mr Hun Sen. “We are trying to solve the problem for the workers while the ministry will take action against the owners later.”
He added the workers needed the money for their daily living expenses.
Heng Sour, a spokesman for the Labour Ministry, said the ministry would pay workers at nine factories whose owners absconded.
“These nine factories include one in Kandal province, three in Kampong Speu and five more in Phnom Penh,” he said, adding that some factories had equipment and property to sell to pay the workers as well.
Kaing Monika, deputy secretary-general of GMAC, expressed appreciation and gratitude to Mr Hun Sen on behalf of the association for his efforts.
“We appreciate the government’s intervention and care toward the affected workers,” he said. “We do not want to see such distressed closures, that’s why it’s of the utmost importance that all stakeholders work together to maintain our country’s competitiveness and work to prevent these undesirable situations from happening in the first place.”
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said it was great news for the workers.
“They really wanted this problem resolved because they need the money to pay for their daily living expenses and now the government has solved it for them,” he said.
Mr Sina demanded that the government still create a mechanism with employers that would require factory owners to keep money with the ministry to give to workers in case they escape without paying.
A worker named Pisei from a factory in Kandal province said yesterday she was happy to hear the news, but was concerned officials would not actually dole out the cash.
“I have often heard about this, but actually most factory workers whose boss ran away have not received any pay. So, I hope this time, officials will follow through with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s orders,” she said.