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Government loan pays off employees

Workers at the shuttered Yung Wah I and II garment factories have been paid 95 per cent of outstanding wages and benefits, workers and unionists said yesterday, while stranded Kingsland Garment workers kept waiting for money owed to them.

Kandal deputy governor Phau Bun Chhoeun claimed on Tuesday that more than 7,000 workers at the Tahkmao town factories would be paid a combined $6.5 million – money secured, he said, through a loan from the national budget.

“Don’t worry about corruption because... the Ministry of Economics and Finance calculated it all before sending us the money,” he said the next day.

“Everything has gone smoothly and we will complete our work tomorrow,” he added yesterday.

Worker representative Sok Phalla said on Wednesday that some administrative employees had received up to $20,000.

Choem Khieng, a legal officer at the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Unions, also said 95 per cent of workers had been paid.

Yung Wah I and II factories – where two Malayan sun bears were found locked in cages last Thursday – closed unannounced in late December, owing workers millions.

Dave Welsh, American Center for International Labor Solidarity country manager, said he was sceptical of Chhouen’s figure.

“We’ve heard figures from $90,000 all the way up to $6.5 million, which seems unbelievable,” he said.

“But, from a policy perspective, this issue does show that other actors can be involved in paying workers in situations like this.”

That’s yet to happen at the capital’s Kingsland garment factory, which also closed down in late December.

More than 90 workers from Kingsland – which had been a supplier to Walmart and H&M – travelled to the local H&M office to call for intervention yesterday.

Their representative, Oun Bouy, said he did not understand why the government had paid workers at Yung Wah and not them.


To contact the reporters on this story: Mom Kunthear at

Shane Worrell at



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