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City hall to mediate pay dispute

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Construction workers protest at their construction site along Russian Federation Boulevard in Phnom Penh on Saturday. Facebook

City hall to mediate pay dispute

The Por Sen Chey district authorities have decided to refer a conflict involving Century Group Co Ltd to the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall for a solution after several attempts at mediation failed to resolve workers’ complaints.

On December 5, a group of 20 construction workers and foremen, who claimed to represent over 100 others, gathered at their construction site along Russian Federation Boulevard in the district’s Kakab I commune, holding up banners demanding that Chinese contractors pay them wages which were already months past-due.

A worker who asked to remain anonymous told reporters during the protest that the contractors’ excuse for failing to pay workers’ earned wages was based on a claim that the Chinese development company which held construction rights to the project had not released money to the contractors to pay the workers.

The protester explained that many workers and foremen had not been paid for months and, having no money, some were forced to take work at other construction sites in order to support themselves.

“I am a worker, and my husband is a Chinese foreman for this building project. But he hasn’t received money for several months. We tried for a long time to get the contractors to make payments, but they kept delaying, day after day. They said the development company had not yet released the money, and all the while, we kept doing the work,” she said.

The Post was not able to contact Century Group for comment by press time on December 7.

The Century Plaza Market construction project is set to be seven stories high with five floors and two basements, according to a company press release. Developers from the Century Group won rights from the government to construct the shopping centre, scheduled to open two years after the project’s inauguration in November last year.

Por Sen Chey district deputy governor Pang Lida told The Post on December 7 that municipal authorities would summon the developers and contractors to negotiate with representatives of the construction foremen and workers.

“According to protocols, the municipal authorities will invite all relevant parties to the municipal hall to resolve the conflict because our district officials were unable to do so. We had met to mediate the conflict a few times already, but one of the Chinese parties was uncooperative.

“For each meeting, they sent a new representative to meet us, leading to miscommunication and an impasse to resolution,” he said.

Lida pointed out that work at the site was halted four months ago, and he suspected the project might have encountered financial troubles. Regardless, the Century Group must still be held accountable under the law and terms of the contract they signed with the municipal administration, he said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey declined to comment on December 7, citing an ongoing investigation into the conflict.

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