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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Labour firm says it’s law-abiding

Labour firm says it’s law-abiding

THE director of a recruitment agency accused of illegally detaining trainees has defended his business practices two weeks after Labour Ministry officials began an investigation of the firm.

Sen Ly, the director of VC Manpower Co, said yesterday that the firm treats clients well.

“They came here because they need us to help them find a job, so when we accept them we have to take care of them because their parents come to meet us and ask us to look after their children,” Sen Ly said in an interview at the company’s Sen Sok district training centre.

The firm, one of at least 28 licensed by the Ministry of Labour to train and send workers abroad, was thrust into the public spotlight last month after a 24-year-old woman leaped from the second storey of the centre. She later said that she and other women had been corralled into tiny rooms and prevented from leaving.

Days later, authorities said that they had discovered 24 underage girls at the centre, along with seven at a separate facility operated by a different company. However, VC Manpower Co insisted that the girls had used false identification to claim they were at least 18.

Though the Ministry of Labour temporarily barred the company from recruiting new clients that week, those restrictions were lifted within days.

On Monday, roughly 400 women were still being trained in the centre. Clients who spoke with the Post yesterday reported good conditions at the centre.

“There are no problems with this company,” said Sum Phanna, who has stayed at the centre for more than two months in hopes of finding work as a domestic assistant in Malaysia. The company, she said, offers food, accommodation and English lessons. Yeoun Phalla said she felt well cared-for by the company staff. She acknowledged that the company barred her and others from leaving the compound, but said she did not mind.
“They are afraid we will have problems,” she said.

Meas Beoun said she had gone to the training centre on Monday to visit her daughter, who was preparing to leave for Malaysia. She said she had never heard her daughter complain about conditions at the company.

“I hope that my daughter can earn more money to send me to help our family because we are poor,” she said.

But Leng Sokleap, the woman who escaped the training centre in July, insisted yesterday that she and other women had been mistreated.

“I used to stay there,” she said. “The room is small with many people, and I was not allowed to go out and visit my family.”

In the meantime, allegations are still surfacing about conditions at the centre.

In a story Sunday, local news website Deum Ampil alleged that more than 100 workers had run out of the training centre, and that some had fainted.

Sen Ly, the VC Manpower director, denied the report. Keo Thea, director of the municipal anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection bureau, said officers visited the centre Sunday night and found no evidence to support the report.

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