Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Garment workers protest payouts for shuttered factories



Garment workers protest payouts for shuttered factories

Workers from Benoh Apparel on Tuesday protest compensation packages provided to them by Ministry of Labour following the closure of their factory in January. Photo supplied
Workers from Benoh Apparel on Tuesday protest compensation packages provided to them by Ministry of Labour following the closure of their factory in January. Photo supplied

Garment workers protest payouts for shuttered factories

Workers from Benoh Apparel and Yu Fa garment factory protested in Phnom Penh on Tuesday over compensation packages handed out by the Ministry of Labour as part of a scheme to reimburse unpaid wages and benefits following the abrupt closure of their factories.

In an unorthodox move, the Labour Ministry set aside $4.6 million to provide severance packages to around 4,000 workers from nine factories whose owners absconded, leaving them unpaid. Officials initiated payments this week for four of the affected firms – Benoh Apparel, Yu Fa, Great Honor and Chung Fai Knitwear – with workers at the firms decrying the packages as well short of what they were owed.

Workers were legally entitled to unpaid salary, annual leave, indemnity for dismissal, compensation for failing to provide a notification period and other damages.

But Orn Soklai, a worker representative for Benoh, said workers had not received annual leave payments or their back pay, resulting in the 200 workers receiving just $40 to $100. The workers protested outside the factory on Tuesday demanding further payment.

“The ministry replied that money that the government has is for 4,000 workers, so it cannot distribute it precisely and they have tried their best to pay the compensation,” Soklai said.

Benoh had ceased operations in November and gave workers $60 for what they said would be a two-month work suspension, but when workers returned, they found the owners had deserted the factory.

Similarly, around 100 workers at Yu Fa Garment Industry protested outside the factory in Phnom Penh’s Choam Chao commune, with worker representative Hor Chheng saying workers had not received compensation for untaken annual leave.

“When we protested, the officials of the Ministry of Labour intervened and promised that they will solve this problem,” she said. “We already told them that we do not want to protest, as long as they agreed to solve for us.”

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said on Tuesday that the process was ongoing and that it was better than waiting for the government to liquidate the delinquent factories’ assets to cover back pay, the typical way of resolving such disputes. He would not address what would become of the shuttered factories’ remaining assets.

But Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said the government has not proceeded with the usual process of liquidating assets. He said the $4.6 million disbursement was to accelerate payments to workers and that the subsequent sale of the factories’ assets would be to recoup the money, not cover the discrepancy.

“The $4.6 million is the government’s offer to workers to pay in advance, it doesn’t mean they provided it to the workers for free,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Nearly 2,000 detained for Phnom Penh curfew breach

    Nearly 2,000 people were detained in the capital for violating the curfew imposed by the government and Phnom Penh Municipal Administration. Municipal police spokesman San Sokseyha told The Post on May 16 that people were detained in two phases. In phase one, the government locked down Phnom

  • Jab drive announced for two more Phnom Penh districts

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration on May 15 announced a first-dose novel-coronavirus vaccination campaign for Boeung Keng Kang and Sen Sok districts from May 18-31, and a follow-up second-shot drive from June 1-15. Twenty vaccination sites have been set up in a combined 13 communes across both