Workers from the defunct First Gawon Apparel factory in Phnom Penh have finally received missing wages and benefits from the government after six months of protests and following an order form Prime Mister Hun Sen for the case to be resolved.
The Labour Ministry had called on the workers of the Meanchey district factory to collect their wages and benefits from Friday to yesterday.
Deputy district governor Dy Roth Khemrun said 352 workers received a total of $200,000 from the government. He noted that workers had not received their wages since December and had protested many times.
“This is advance cash from the government via the Ministry of Labour to help them with their living costs,” he said.
Hundreds of garment workers from the factory had earlier refused to continue their work after the owner failed to pay them.
Khem Makara, the union leader at the factory from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Unions, said that the workers had protested for more than six months in front of the factory, the Ministry of Labour and the Korean embassy.
“They protested many times and in many places to seek help because the workers really needed their wages after their employer did not pay them,” he said. “Now they can use their wages for living expenses and can find another job.”
Sam Samang, one of the workers, said she got $734 from the government for lost wages and some benefits.
“I worked there for nearly seven years,” she said. “I should have got $2,000 severance pay, but I am still happy to get this money from the government because our employer fled.”
At the end of May, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the Labour Ministry to find a solution for the workers who had been protesting for months over unpaid wages.
Earlier, workers tried to bring a petition to his private home and suggested that the efforts of the ministry had been fruitless.
So Mr Hun Sen ordered the Labour Minister to resolve the problem. He said he would sign the request for the government to advance the cash.
In February, Mr Hun Sen said that the government would pay $4.6 million to 4,100 factory workers whose employers had fled. They were from nine factories, of which five were in Phnom Penh, one was in Kandal province and another three were in Kampong Speu province.
In April, the ministry paid out 2,542 workers from four factories in Phnom Penh, Benoh Apparel, Fu Da Garment Industry, Great Honour Textile Factory and Chung Fai Knitwear.