Eighty Cambodian workers trapped without their passports at a construction site in southern Thailand fear Thai firm Christiani & Nielsen (Thai) Public Company Limited will not keep a promise to allow them to return home.
The workers have complained that almost all of their salaries had been extorted through various fees and that some of them were arrested, stripped, beaten, fined and had their heads shaved by Thai police simply because they had work visas for the wrong location.
Lim Srum, a representative of the group that was sent to a construction site in Songkhla province’s Hat Yai district by Cambodian firm Ap Tse & C Cambodia Resource Co, Ltd, said that the workers were due to get their passports back today.
“We are happy about the pledge of the company, but we are still anxious. We fear the company will lie to us. I miss my wife and daughter,” he said.
The company had agreed to let them return to Cambodia in two separate groups for two weeks each, though it is unclear why any of them would be willing to return.
“Before, we suggested 20 days, but we were afraid the company would not allow.”
Sith Vichey, director of Ap Tse & C Cambodian Resource, said the workers had not completed their contracts so they could not return permanently.
“If they want to come back home, not just to visit, they must wait until the work contract is finished,” he said.
Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, said Ap Tse & C Cambodian Resource and Christiani & Nielsen had blatantly breached contractual obligations.
“In fact, the worker can come back home, not just visiting for two weeks; they can terminate the two-year contract because the company is wrong for sending them to work in the wrong place,” he said.
A source close to the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok said Christiani & Nielsen (Thai) Public Company Limited, which has not responded to inquiries from the Post, had absolutely no right to withhold workers’ passports.
To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at [email protected]