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Equipment on block to meet debts

Ministry of Labour officials have agreed to allow the selling off of equipment inside a Phnom Penh garment factory, abandoned by its owner at the end of January, to pay money owed to workers, union officials said Tuesday.

Nearly half of about 390 workers at Kui Xing garment factory in the capital’s Chbar Ampov district thumb-printed a request to gut the factory in order to compensate employees for unused annual leave, indemnity and other debts.

“The ministry will let us find buyers or find someone to sell [factory materials] for the workers, but they are creating a committee to prevent cases of fraud,” Rithy Neth of the Free Trade Union – one of seven unions in Kui Xing – said Tuesday. “The committee will include union leaders, workers, district police and Labour Ministry officials.”

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached.

Despite the agreement, Neth said he doubts proceeds will be enough to fully compensate former employees. “We estimate we will raise between $25,000 and $40,000,” Neth said. “We need about $200,000 to pay all owed benefits.”

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