Seeking to appease more than 200 migrant workers who say they were scammed out of promised jobs in Thailand, employment agency Koun Khmer Training Center yesterday doled out compensation to some of the jilted workers they had recruited.
Late on Wednesday night, the company’s owner, Lin Da, relented to demands for reimbursement and gave 32 workers camped outside the agency’s office $160 each, according to one of the recipients.
“We waited all night, but the other workers who left to sleep and came back to the office again on Thursday [yesterday] found the centre closed and the boss’s phone turned off,” said Khen Chan, 30.
Chan added that the $160 wasn’t equal to the commission the company had charged; he said he paid a $260 fee for it to secure him a construction job in Thailand, while others had paid more than $400.
Complaints about the centre began to surface at the beginning of the week when a group of 35 workers were repatriated from Thailand, where they had waited in vain to be picked up by an employer. Thai officials told the group their visas were fakes and sent them home.
Still, Tan Naven, chief of Teuk Thla commune, where Koun Khmer operates, said the company had been operating legally and that there was no need to investigate.
“The company agreed to give money back, so it is a matter between the workers and the business,” he said.
According to Naven, Koun Khmer had recruited 187 workers as a subcontractor for APTSE & C, a recruiter recognised by the Ministry of Labour.
Ministry officials yesterday declined to comment on whether the training centre or parent company’s licence would be suspended, and instead shifted responsibility back to the migrants.
“Workers: know where you are going and what you are going to do … if you just rush you will put yourself at risk for exploitation and trafficking,” said Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng at a safe migration workshop.
According to An Bunhak, director of recruitment agency Top Manpower, there has been an increase in scams in the wake of new labour migration policies.
“Turn on the radio and you will hear many ads of organisations claiming they will get the workers legal jobs in Thailand, but where are all these companies’ licences?” he said.
Workers meanwhile said they would file a complaint about Koun Khmer if they do not receive full reimbursement soon.