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Worker deaths prompt arrests

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Monks chant during a funeral yesterday as family members mourn for a man that was killed during a workplace accident at a marble factory in Sen Sok district. Pha Lina

Worker deaths prompt arrests

The owner and a supervisor of a Phnom Penh marble warehouse are in police custody and will appear before a municipal judge today, after three of their employees were crushed to death on Tuesday night, police said yesterday.

The male owner – identified by local news website CEN as Chhoeng Toeurng Pinh, 46 – and a female manager of the Xin Yong Thai (Cambodia) Group Co Ltd warehouse in the capital’s Sen Sok district, were arrested after the 7pm incident, said Tum Chhan, an employee who witnessed the accident.

The owner and superviser are both Chinese nationals.

Sen Sok district police chief Mok Hong yesterday declined to name the two who were arrested, and several Xin Yong Thai employees claimed to not know their bosses’ names.

Hong also declined to name the victims, but family members and co-workers identified them to the Post as Thong Bora, 29; Sao Bunna, 33; and Hak Ratha, 25.

As the three victims unloaded marble off a truck, the heavy stone slid off the highest pallet, fatally crushing their necks and heads, Chhan said.

“Everyone was in shock,” he said.

“It took all the workers about 20 minutes to get them out of the pile of marble.”

Paramedics who arrived at the scene declared all three dead, Chhan added.

A Xin Yong Thai staffer who declined to give her name yesterday said that the company called victims’ family members regarding compensation, but were told that the families were too busy organising memorial services.

By 12:30pm yesterday, family and friends of Bora and Bunna were gathering to say their final goodbyes at a funeral held for the two at Teuk Thla pagoda in Sen Sok district.

Standing near the coffin containing his younger brother, Bora, Thong Morn, 37, said he blamed Xin Yong Thai’s managers for his younger sibling’s death.

Once the funeral ends, Morn plans to speak with the other victims’ families and figure out the amount of compensation they will demand when filing a complaint.

“I am angry with the owners, because they did not care about the workers’ safety; they have to make restitution to our family,” Morn said.

“I will prepare the complaint after we are finished celebrating my brother’s funeral.”

But Vy Sam Eoun, 22, Bunna’s friend and co-worker at the warehouse – where he works as a driver – yesterday said he believes the deaths should not be entirely blamed on Xin Yong Thai’s owners.

“[Bunna] was a very good man, gentle, and never made problems at work or with his family.

His wife died many years ago, and he was supporting his two sons,” Sam Eoun said.

“[But] I think this was an accident, because our bosses are not careless.”

“In cases of work-related deaths, the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) covers funeral expenses.

It also grants monthly payments amounting to 28 per cent of the deceased’s wages to spouses for the rest of their lives and to children until they reach 23, said Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labour department.

Even if the three Xin Yong Thai workers deaths were an accident, the employers should still be held responsible, Tola said.

“Occupational safety must be the responsibility of the management,” Tola said.

“If the employee needs to be provided with some personal protection equipment, if the management did not do that, it’s a big mistake of the management.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KIM SAROM

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