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Protesters gather at the Cambodian Asian Labor Alliance Organization office
Protesters gather at the Cambodian Asian Labor Alliance Organization office yesterday to demand the return of their course fees. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Demonstrators say jobs in Japan promised

Hundreds of Cambodians hoping to migrate to Japan to work in the electronics industry yesterday protested outside an NGO that they claim conned them out of up to $200 each with promises of jobs.

About 100 protesters – out of a total of 300 who are claiming their course fees back from the Cambodian Asian Labor Alliance Organization (CALAO) – protested outside its office in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district yesterday, claiming they were duped by slick radio advertising and false promises from staff.

CALAO denied that it had misled trainees, and offered to pay back part of the funds to settle what it deemed a misunderstanding.

Chea Sokha, 35, from Kampong Chhnang province, said he was demanding the organisation refund him after not being asked to interview.

“We do not have any confidence that we could to travel to work in Japan like the NGO promoted.… It turned out that none of the trainees who were selected to interview … went to work in Japan,” he said.

Another disgruntled trainee, Heng Piseth, 25, from Kampong Cham province, said a radio advertisement had persuaded him to sign up for the program.

“I heard from the radio promotion that all the trainees who trained for three months will travel to work in Japan.”

Arriving at the protest yesterday, military police called on the two parties to negotiate a settlement whereby CALAO would pay back a percentage of the fee.

CALAO representative Nut Cham Nab agreed but said that the group had no obligation to directly arrange work for the trainees.

“My NGO does not have any obligation to send them to work in Japan directly. We only train their Japanese-language skills,” he said. “Anyway, we agreed to pay them back, because we did not want to have any problem with them.

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