Staff from a Cambodian recruitment firm have travelled to Thailand to meet with workers they sent to a construction site who have complained of police brutality and extortion but are trapped because their passports have been withheld.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said staff from Ap Tse & C Cambodia Resource Co, Ltd set off for a Christiani & Nielsen (Thai) Public Company Limited project in Songkhla province’s Hat Yai district yesterday afternoon.
“They [the workers] want to visit Cambodia for two weeks, but the company insists they continue until the project ends, and the project ends [in two weeks time],” he said.
“If all 80 workers still want to come home, the company representative will compromise, will solve the problem – with all the papers, all the passports – so they can go back home,” Koy Kuong said, adding that Cambodia’s ambassador to Thailand had also investigated the case.
The workers have complained of being docked almost all of their salaries in fees for their visas by Ap Tse & C Cambodia Resource, health insurance by Christiani & Nielsen, and unexplained sums to police.
Earlier this month, police arrested about half of the workers, allegedly stripped the males, beat them and then extorted thousands of baht from them because the visas they were given had the wrong destination on them.
Worker representative Lim Srum said Christiani & Nielsen had pledged to solve their problems but done nothing and refused to return their passports.
“We’re afraid Thai police will arrest us again to mistreat us, such as beating us and stripping us naked.
“We cannot wait for a long time. If we do, we will have no money to buy food.”
A representative of Christiani & Nielsen could not be reached for comment, but Sith Vichey, director of Ap Tse & C Cambodia Resource, said the company was only keeping the passports so they would not lose them.
“But what the problem is, is that the workers’ contract with the company is two years, but right now, it is just six months [in]. They want to come back home, but have not yet finished their contract,” he said.