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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Migrant workers seek way out of Thailand

Migrant workers seek way out of Thailand

A dispute between more than 1,000 Cambodian migrant workers and a seafood factory in Thailand over pay conditions has escalated, with the majority of them seeking to leave, several of the employees have said.

In late January, the Post reported that workers at the Pathana Frozen Food Factory in Thailand’s Songkla province had reported that hundreds of workers felt they had been cheated by the Cambodian recruitment firm that sent there, CDM Trading Manpower Ltd.

Four employees, all of who wish to remain anonymous, and former employee Keo Ratha have now told the Post that most of the 1,000 workers want to leave but are waiting for the company to answer their requests for their passports back.

Keo Ratha, who managed to secure his passport last month and return to Cambodia, said CDM Trading Manpower Ltd had sent 300 more recruits to the factory this month, despite his protestations that they were being exploited.

“A lot of workers want to return home, but they cannot return because they do not have passports and money for travelling,” he said.

Contrary to the promises of CDM Trading Manpower Ltd, they were receiving a salary of just 177 baht a day without promised accommodation or food and were docked 1,500 baht for the cost of their passports.

One of the workers who wished to remain anonymous said on one occasion workers had only been paid half their monthly salary, which made it even more difficult for them to escape the factory.  

Duong Sarann, director of CDM Trading Manpower, called the workers lazy, said they were exaggerating their situation and claimed the passports were held by the factory to avoid loss.

“If passports are lost, who is responsible for this? The company is responsible for the loss of passports. It is very difficult to make it again,” he said.

Seng Sakada, director general of Department General of Labour at the Ministry of Labour & Vocational Training, declined to comment yesterday, saying he was busy.

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