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Ex-rail workers fear pay has left station

Ex-rail workers fear pay has left station

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A group of former railway workers protest outside the Ministry of Transportation in Phnom Penh yesterday. The workers are demanding that the government pay stipends owed to them.

Representatives of 503 former railway workers protested outside the Ministry of Transportation in Phnom Penh yesterday, demanding the government pay them outstanding salaries ranging from US$2,500 to $5,000 per person.

Railway workers from Battambang, Kampot, Pursat and Takeo who were formerly employed by the government, but were dismissed in April this year when a private company took over the project, claimed they had not received promised government salary stipends since being removed from their posts.

Prom Sokha Tevy, one of nearly 100 representatives gathered yesterday, said former workers were demanding a meeting with the ministry and payment of their “project conclusion entitlements”.

A project conclusion entitlement is a portion of salary collected at each pay, then delivered as a salary stipend on the conclusion of a project.

But the workers formerly employed by the state and dismissed during the private company’s takeover have not received any of this salary stipend, despite the Ministry of Transportation sending a recommendation report to the Ministry of Economics in October saying the workers should be paid.

Koe Chan Vesna, a former railway worker official from Kampot who had worked on the railway there since 1981, said this was the fourth time workers had protested to demand the stipend be paid.

“We stopped work because the railways were taken over by a private company that wanted less staff to save money. We agreed to stop if we were paid our accumulated salary stipend,” Koe Chan Vesna said.

“Right now, our income is so little that we need that money to support ourselves.”

Another former railway worker, Sok Vanna from Phnom Penh, said workers were also demanding an extra $5 a month for each month the salary stipend was not paid.

“We demand the extra money to pressure Prime Minister Hun Sen to help us, but so far we have received nothing,” she said.

“We have worked for the state for such a long time on the railways – for me, since 1979.”

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