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Migrant workers say firms lied about visas

A group of 20 Cambodian migrant workers have said they fled Thailand fearing arrest because recruitment firms sent them abroad with one-month visas when they had been promised two-year contracts.

Representatives of the workers, who returned on Friday night, said they were sent to a battery factory by Top Manpower – which is owned by the president of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, An Bunhak – and another company they could not identify.

Ang Khun Ly, a worker from Kandal province, said he had paid US$300 to Top Manpower for the passport, which he was told would last two years, only to discover it was invalid after just one month of work.

“When I worked there, the company in Thailand needed to control my passport. They said that our passport were only valid for a one-month period. If we continue to work, we would be arrested. We were afraid of being arrested, so we came back,” he said.

Reached via email, An Bunhak yesterday denied his company had cheated anyone and said he would pursue legal action against those falsely accusing Top Manpower of wrongdoing.

“TOP Manpower has never sent workers to work so-called battery factory in Thailand. I would like request all workers who was abused or cheat to fill a complaint then we can find out who use our name,” the email read.

Hom Mut, a military chief in Beanteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town, said he was investigating the claims of the workers, who had all returned through the border town.

“They really came back from Thailand at Poipet border. They were in a panic but they have not yet filed a complaint to the military police,” he said.

WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE

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