Union representatives have appealed to Social, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation Affairs minister Ith Sam Heng to pull 18 elderly garment workers from a formerly state-owned Kampong Cham factory and remunerate them with pensions.
In a letter sent yesterday, Free Trade Union representatives asked Heng to order the release of the Manhattan factory workers following the death of their 72-year-old colleague on July 22, whose family received just $100 in compensation from the company.
The aged workers were state textile workers for the Ambel village garment factory, which was privatised as Manhattan factory in 1999 and is not required to pay pensions under labour laws.
Ly Chong, a 72-year-old Manhattan employee, said he felt shackled to the factory.
“We are too old to work, and want to stop. We have even asked for the company to sack us so that we are compensated,” he said.
Chong had worked at the state factory since 1969 and said he was dismissed and permitted to rest at home due to his ill health, but had only been “temporarily suspended” and received just half of his salary.
Administrative director of Manhattan, Sam Seyha, said the factory needed the skilled workers but would not “force them to overwork”.
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