Labour Ministry officials yesterday met with protesting Julee Apparel workers in Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district, where the workers are rallying over unpaid wages after their employer died by suicide.
More than 200 workers began rallying last week following news of the suicide and began blocking roads and occupying factory premises demanding that authorities sell off company assets to make up for missing wages.
Vong Sovann, deputy secretary-general of the labour dispute committee at the ministry, said that in order for the case to move forward, workers will need to first appoint representatives to speak with officials.
Mr Sovann said the ministry has already begun working on the case, noting that missing wages have been calculated and will be dispersed by the ministry following government approval.
“Officials appealed to workers to give them some time in order for documents to be processed,” he said.“Listen to us because we’re officials – we’re working on it.”
Soa Sovann, a factory worker, said yesterday that workers are pressuring the government to solve the issue by Friday. “We need at least 50 percent of our pay in order to pay bills,” Ms Sovann said.
She said the factory owner’s wife died in South Korea after he moved to Cambodia.
“Maybe he was having a crisis and was not happy with life,” she said.
She noted that workers are suggesting authorities sell company assets in order to make up for the missing wages.
“We want the officials to sell off the company’s production machines,” Ms Sovann said. “Some of the other workers slept here in order to make sure the company won’t sell them without our knowledge.”
Julee Apparel was registered as a company earlier this year under a Korean owner named Ju Doo Soo, who was hung himself at his home in Kakab commune on July 30.
Phal Yuthea, commune police chief, said that 49-year-old Ju Doo Soo was found dead in what appeared to be suicide at his home.
Mr Yuthea said that police are trying to get to the bottom of the dispute and warned protestors to cease blocking roads. “Police are ordering workers to stop blocking roads because it disrupts public order,” he said. “The workers agreed to stop and they went to meet officials in front of the factory.”