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Ex-Japan workers seek redress

Sixteen Cambodians who say they were recruited for agricultural jobs in Japan and instead ended up at a food factory under reduced salaries have filed a complaint with the NGO CARAM seeking financial compensation.

The workers, some of them in Japan for more than a year, filed the complaint on Friday.

They were repatriated at the end of last month with the help of the Cambodian embassy after Japanese immigration authorities found they lacked proper papers.

They came back from Japan in groups, and the Post initially spoke to eight of them at the end of June.

At the time, the Post obtained a statement carrying the thumbprints of workers who said the factory had forced them to work more than 13 hours a day at half the salary they had been promised.

CARAM program officer Meas Sanet said the NGO was interviewing the workers and would look into the allegations.

“CARAM is investigating this case before sending it to the authorities,” she said. “Anyway, it is a rare case of worker abuse in Japan.”

The Cambodian branch of Japanese organisation Inaho Kyodoh Kumiai allegedly sent workers to a Family Foods factory in Ibaraki prefecture, where they washed vegetables.

Khouen Srey Nak, a representative for Inaho in Phnom Penh, declined to comment in detail.

“I don’t know of their complaint; I couldn’t give any information,” she said.

Most of the returnees are from Kandal and Pursat provinces.

Once in Japan, they claim, their salaries were slashed and they could not get their passports back.

“It was very bad. They cut our salary every month. They sent us to the wrong place,” one of the workers, Phat Sary, 29, said. “When the NGOs had a problem with Japanese [immigration authorities], they forced us to come back home without compensation.”

Another worker, 24-year-old Noun Rany, said: “When we trained at the NGO, we were confident, but when we worked over there, we knew we were being cheated.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at david.sen@phnompenhpost.com

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