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Workers rally over unpaid wages

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Workers rally outside the factory gates over unpaid wages. Supplied

About 200 garment workers in Phnom Penh started to rally outside their factory on Wednesday over unpaid wages in the wake of their employer being found dead in an apparent suicide.

Sao Savon, a Julee Apparel factory worker, said yesterday that employees began to occupy their place of employment last week after discovering that the factory owner hung himself at his home in Kakab commune on July 30.

Ms Savon said that prior to election day, the company paid each worker a $20 cash advance following a directive by the Labour Ministry to facilitate their travels.

However, the rest of their monthly wage was not distributed after they returned from their respective provinces.

Upon hearing the suicide news, workers began occupying the factory in Por Senchey district’s Kakab commune in fear that the company would start to wrap up its operations.​ “We are sorry that the owner died, but the company needs to pay our wages,” Ms Savon said.

Julee Apparel was registered as a company earlier this year under a Korean employer named Ju Doo Soo.

Ms Savon said that officials from the Labour Ministry met with workers and asked for patience while a solution is reached.

“The officials promised to find a solution,” she said. “They told workers to stay silent and wait.”

Kakab commune police chief Pal Yuthea said yesterday that 49-year-old Mr Soo was found dead in his home in what appeared to be suicide.

“We found him dead in his house, but police have not yet concluded why he committed suicide,” Mr Yuthea said, noting that authorities are now looking for a viable solution for those involved.

The government has in recent months taken several measures to protect garment workers whose employers absconded.

Among them, the Labour Ministry has been paying workers cash for missing wages as it attempts to wrangle in missing employers to be taken to court.

Several thousand workers from multiple factories have already received the cash from the ministry, which has also amended the Labour Law to protect their seniority bonuses.

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