Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - 7 flee S Arabian construction job

7 flee S Arabian construction job

7 flee S Arabian construction job

As Cambodia continues to consider inking a deal to ship workers to Saudi Arabia, seven migrants have already fled notoriously poor labour conditions in the Middle Eastern nation.

The workers were enlisted by a private construction company in Jeddah, according to the Thai Embassy in Saudi Arabia, which is assisting the men in the absence of a Cambodian diplomatic presence in the county.

“They came to the embassy on August 18 because they did not know where else to go for help,” said an embassy official who declined to provide his name. “Their employer had delayed their salary for two months.”

The men told the embassy that they wanted to return home because the work was “too heavy”, according to the official, who added that the seven had all been legally employed in Saudi Arabia, with the proper visa and work permit.

The Cambodian Ministry of Labour has repeatedly said that it has not yet dotted all the i’s in a pending memorandum of understanding to send workers to Saudi Arabia. Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng said in May that the agreement would be signed “as soon as possible” following an examination of conditions in the host country.

“Until now, there is no recruitment firm licensed to send workers to Saudi Arabia … but workers can still go on their own by contacting an employer directly,” said An Bunhak, director of Top Manpower Co Ltd.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly come under fire for a spate of abuse scandals involving foreign workers. In 2011, Indonesia placed a moratorium on sending domestic workers to the country after the beheading of a maid found guilty of killing her abusive employer.

With Cambodia already seeing victims from the country come home, Am Sam Ath, senior monitor of the rights group Licadho, urged the government “to reconsider sending workers to the country.”

The seven Cambodians currently staying at the Thai Embassy are set to be repatriated on Wednesday.

“Due to the Thai embassy’s intervention, the employer paid their wages and paid for their airfare home,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said in a statement yesterday.

Kuong added that six Cambodians trafficked as brides to China were also set to return the same day on flights paid for by an international organisation.

A total of 15 women currently remain in China awaiting flights, several of whom were informed by Chinese officials that they could not leave before obtaining a divorce from their forcibly wedded husbands, rights monitor Adhoc said.

“The women were told this is Chinese law,” said Adhoc’s Chhan Sokunthear, adding that she didn’t know why the regulation was selectively applied.

In the last month, six Cambodian brides have returned from China after intervention from aid groups and benefactors.

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not