Nearly 50 workers from the Co-Seek Garment factory in Russey Keo district’s Tuol Sangke commune yesterday came out to petition Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet for intervention after their employer escaped in 2016 without paying them.
Khoun Nary, 26, a former worker at the factory, said the owner of the company fled in 2016 without paying nearly 100 workers their wages.
She said that at that time, the workers sold off machines for $3,500, but the money was not given to the workers because the case was still in the court system.
Ms Nary explained that the employer rented the building to open the factory. When they fled, they failed to pay rent and the building owner also needed some of the money obtained from selling the equipment.
“In this case, the employer had a dispute with the building owner, too. There is a lawsuit in the court, that’s why the budget from selling the machines has not been provided to the workers,” she said.
Another worker named Hon Senghour, 35, said the workers had heard recently that the government was assisting workers whose employers had escaped and they too wanted to cash in.
“My factory’s employer escaped too, so please help us. We have still not received our wages or our bonuses,” she said.
Last week, the government announced it would pay a cash advance to workers whose bosses escaped without paying their wages and bonuses.
Mr Hun Sen said the government was prepared to pay $4.6 million to 4,100 workers whose bosses escaped, meaning each worker would get about $1,100.
“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 last week. “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, noted last week that 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.
The Labour Ministry did not confirm the names of the nine factories.
Ms Senghour said yesterday that she and her co-workers sought intervention because the name of their factory was not on the list.
Kong Chamroeun, an official from Mr Hun Sen’s cabinet, came to take the workers’ petition and told them it would be sent to the Labour Ministry to find a solution.
Mr Sour, the Labour Ministry spokesman, could not be reached for comment yesterday.