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Former Shell employees asking for interest on retirement pay

Former Shell employees asking for interest on retirement pay

Former employees of Shell oil company are demanding $1 million in interest on retirement

benefits recently awarded to Cambodia staff members who worked for the company before

1975.

The staff of Societe Shell du Cambodge (SSC) were forced to stop working when the

country was overtaken by the Khmer Rouge in 1975.

In November 2001 SSC's modern-day equivalent, Shell International Limited, paid retirement

benefits totaling $250,000 to 38 former employees, said Bun Khem, one of the claimants.

A further $109,710 was paid in March last year to cover long-overdue retirement benefits

owed to 35 other former staff.

Now the 73 former employees are demanding that Shell's London-based operations pay

10 percent interest on their retirement benefits, Khem said.

"According to the legal basis, the company has to pay 10 percent as an interest

rate of the retirement benefits, which the company was not able to pay after 1975,"

Khem said. "I think that the SSC has tried to cheat our money."

He estimated the interest owed between 1975 and 2003 was about $1 million.

The action comes in response to a similar claim in Vietnam in which Royal Dutch-Shell

Group of Companies paid $2 million to nearly 600 Vietnamese workers who lost their

jobs without severance pay when the oil company's Vietnam operations were taken by

the communist government.

"Our case is similar to the one already applied in Vietnam, and the same legal

basis of operating should clearly consist of interest [paid on retirement funds],"

Khem said.

The Cambodian claimants tried to push their request through the British Ambassador

in September last year, but were unsuccessful, Khem said.

Robert Pritt, senior legal counsel of the Shell company in London, did not reply

to e-mails.

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