During negotiations yesterday, allegedly defrauded workers in Kampong Thom and a recruitment agency hammered out a deal that saw limited compensation delivered to the aggrieved would-be migrants.
Recruiter AP TSE & C – a firm with a history of alleged abuses – visited 36 workers from Chamna Leu commune yesterday, shortly after the National Assembly had ordered a legal investigation into the issue.
The workers said the company had come to the village in July, collecting $300 from anyone who wanted a job in Thailand within two months. But the workers allege that despite their patience, no job prospects had emerged eight months later.
To compensate the workers, AP TSE & C agreed to give out $140 and return passports to 28 workers who would rather take their business elsewhere, worker representatives said. Eight workers decided to take the agency up on an offer to work in one of five Thai factories presented yesterday.
“I paid $300, but they said the money was used for getting the passport and documents, so I decided to take the compensation since this company seems not to know much about work in Thailand,” said Taing Reuy, one of the 36 workers.
But according to new legislation approved after the mass exodus of migrant workers fleeing Thailand last June, passports, Thai employment visas and work permits for migrants are to cost just $49.
AP TSE & C representative Moeun Channa could not say yesterday why the workers were given less than half the original amount paid or whether it had to do with obtaining documentation.
“The negotiation produced results, and I will take the money and passports to the people who decided not to work in Thailand on Saturday through the provincial Labour Department,” he said, adding that the initial offers for employment were made by a training centre subsidiary of the company and not AP TSE & C itself.
Channa declined to comment further about the compensation amount when pressed. He also would not name the Phnom Penh-based training centre in question, which he said had closed already.
One of the eight Kampong Thom villagers who agreed to continue his contract with AP TSE & C said that he opted to do so only after provincial labour authorities guaranteed there would be no deceit.
“The provincial authorities and this company promised to run and manage everything for us until we arrive at the workplace,” said Ros Sab.