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Worker ‘threatened’ for speaking to press

Worker ‘threatened’ for speaking to press

A Cambodian migrant worker in Thailand has said that a recruitment firm in Phnom Penh that sent him and about 1,000 others to work at an “exploitative” factory is threatening him because he spoke to the press.

Keo Ratha, 37, said yesterday he received a threatening phone call from CDM Trading Manpower after he spoke to the Post early this week about exploitative conditions at Pathana Frozen Food Factory in Thailand’s Songkla province.

“They asked me for what newspaper I am working. Who hired me to twist their company?” he said, adding that he had been threatened with a criminal complaint.

Late yesterday, he told the Post a company employee was escorting him back to Cambodia, a day after he was refused his passport when trying to join 24 other workers returning home.

He and another worker, whose name has been concealed for their protection, told the Post on Monday that hundreds of Cambodians at Pathana Frozen Food Factory wanted to leave but were unable to get their passports back.

The pair alleged promises made by CDM Trading Manpower that healthcare, accommodation and food expenses would be paid for have not been honoured by the factory, which has also charged exorbitant fees for their passports, leaving them with virtually no salary.

Of 80 recruits that arrived in October, 10 had since fled without their passports, Keo Ratha said.

The other worker said her monthly salary had dropped from 2,000 baht to 1,800 baht after one month and 1,500 baht of this had been docked for the cost of her passport every month, leaving her with nothing after the cost of accommodation and food.

She said workers who fell ill were denied medical treatment.  

Staff members at CDM Trading Manpower – a member of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies – have repeatedly not answered calls.

But ACRA board member Vuoch Na on Tuesday denied the factory was withholding passports.

“Taking passports is to issue health care card for them, to issue work card for them . . . he can ask for his passport any time if he wants,” she said.

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