Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that some garment workers have not been paid because their employers shut down the factories and fled after they lost money gambling.
Speaking to thousands of garment workers in Kandal province, Mr Hun Sen said that some of the factories were shuttered because their managers stole the workers’ wages for gambling.
“Their managers lose money gambling; they do not know what to do. They spend the workers’ wages and then they panic. They have to escape,” he said.
He said he usually asked his officials to find solutions for the workers when they protested by holding pictures of him and his wife, Bun Rany.
“Recently, the government paid cash in advance to the workers whose employers escaped. The government loses money, but it must provide wages to the workers,” he said. Last week, the government announced it would pay cash in 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.
More than 1,000 workers of Yu Da Garment, S.R.E Garment and Yu Fa Garment in Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district have lost wages after their employers fled.
Heng Sour, spokesman for the Labour Ministry, said the government has already prepared cash for garment workers if their employers flee.
“Please don’t be worried. The government has cash for them to pay their missing wages and then we will sell off properties,” he said, referring to equipment left behind in the abandoned factories.
Toun Saren, a secretary with the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said workers were unsure why their employers fled, but regardless of the reason, they needed to get paid.
“The workers need to get paid on time when their employers escape. Sometimes, they do not know what problems their employers face, but they panic when factory representatives disappear,” he said.
Last week, the Ministry of Labour said that if employers escaped without paying workers, the ministry would confiscate property of the factories and sell it to compensate workers or put it back into the state budget.
The National Employment Agency will find new jobs for the workers. The ministry will also take legal action against those who advised owners or company representatives to shut down their factories and flee.