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Seeking redress: More than 50 workers protest over unpaid dues at ministry

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
A security guard checks documents from protesting workers at the Ministry of Labour. KT/ Chor Sokunthea

More than 50 workers of New Best Global Textile Co Ltd in Kampong Speu yesterday staged a protest in front of the Labour Ministry over wages and compensation owed after their employer fled three months ago.

Nget Nak, a garment worker, said the factory in Samraong Tong district has 763 workers and the employer fled in March without paying compensation.

She said that in February, the factory announced it was suspending operations for one month but when the workers returned for work in March, the employer had fled.

Ms Nak said the workers had sought help from the provincial labour department but till now nothing has been done.

“We waited for a solution at the provincial level for three months and have heard nothing,” she said. “That is why we have travelled from Kampong Speu to Phnom Penh to seek help from the ministry because we are finding it hard to make ends meet.”

Ms Nak said the workers are seeking eight days of owed wages, suspension benefits, severance pay and other compensation because the company closed down.

“We are trying to find another job but at this time, some factories are suspended or shut down,” she said. “So we hope to get our last wages and compensation to pay debts, rentals and other living expenses.”

Workers from Kampong Speu province protest outside the Ministry of Labour over unpaid dues after the factory owner absconded. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Prum Tola, another worker, said they have waited a long time for a solution from the company.

She said if their problem is not resolved, they will come back to the capital again to stage a protest with a lot more workers.

“The ministry officials accepted our petition and told us to wait for a solution,” Ms Tola said. “The ministry said it is treating the case as urgent.”

Another worker, who declined to be named, said they are finding it difficult to make ends meet, especially during the pandemic.

“We have no income but we have to spend the same on everything like before COVID-19, such as servicing debt and paying for water, electricity and room rentals,” she said. “We hope the ministry will urgently find a way to get us our compensation.”

Provincial labour department chief Choek Borin said yesterday the owner of the building which the company had rented had offered to sell factory equipment left behind and use the money to pay the workers.

He said the workers, however, said the amount which could be raised from the sale would not be enough to pay all of them and are demanding full compensation from the employer.

“The workers are demanding the full amount and that is why the problem is dragging on until now, although the building owner has agreed to pay them,” Mr Borin said.

 

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