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Agreement reached at Thai seafood factory

A conclusive settlement has been reached in the long-running dispute between a Thai seafood factory and its Cambodian employees, Cambodian ambassador to Thailand You Ay said yesterday.

Rights groups and workers at the Phatthana Seafood factory in Thailand’s Songkhla province, which employs 1,050 Cambodians, have accused the company of a raft of abuses.

After workers won concessions from the factory on wages, possession of passports and a food allowance, they continued protesting for free housing, which they argued was promised by Cambodian labour firm CDM Trading Manpower in the contracts to send them abroad.

You Ay said she had helped strike an agreement that ensured the workers received free housing, required CDM Trading Manpower to visit the factory every month and address their access to healthcare.

“I do hope that everything is better now, and I promise to you that I will follow up everything that the factory and CDM agreed with workers,” she said.

But for a group of workers she described as semi-legal, the high price of obtaining passports and the multiple steps towards becoming legal workers remained a problem.

“How to do this one because the [semi-legal] workers do not have money to pay from the beginning?” she said.

Joel Preston, a consultant at Cambodian Legal Education Center, said about 100 of these workers had been trafficked by different groups to the factory.

“Our priority is that everyone is legitimate and they’re legally entitled to be there,” he said.

Preston said if the agreement the ambassador had negotiated was respected, it was finally a step in the right direction.

“If they’ve been given what they were promised by CDM, workers should be content to stay and make the best out of a bad situation,” he said.

So Saobol, a CDM Trading Manpower representative responsible for its Phatthana Seafood workers, said the ambassador had settled the issue.

Phatthana Seafood’s parent company, PTN, which supplies retail giant Walmart, has repeatedly failed to respond to the Post.

Workers also could not be reached yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Boyle at david.boyle@phnompenhpost.com

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