The Phnom Penh Municipal Department of Labour and Vocational Training has ordered Hatha (Cambodia) International Job Centre to halt the training and sending of workers to Japan without permission, a department’s letter obtained by The Post on Monday said.
The centre, located in Meanchey district, only registered as an educational institution at the department in December 2017, but is alleged to have also sent workers to Japan without prior permission from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.
The department ordered the centre to halt all activities involved in training and recruitment of workers to Japan. The centre must also take responsibility to compensate all trainees it had currently recruited.
“The chief of human resources and planning and the chief of professional training and its related units at Hatha [Cambodia] International Job Centre must enforce the department’s decision with effect from the date of signing [August 21],” the letter read.
The department’s director Chuon Vuthy told The Post on Monday that the centre was closed because it had carried out services without seeking prior permission from the ministry. However, he said the centre can commence operations again upon obtaining such permission.
“The centre was ordered shut because it had failed to get permission from the ministry to carry out its activities. If it wants to protest anything, please to go to the ministry,” he said.
Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment on Monday.
When contacted, Hatha director Hang Sambath denied that his centre had failed to seek permission for its activities. He said he had also not deceived any trainee out of money.
The centre has been operating for the past six years and trained potential workers in the Japanese language so that they could pass a test to work in Japan. Each trainee had to pay $150 for the tutorial, he said.
The centre, he said, was only entitled to provide training in the Japanese language and was not licensed to send workers abroad. However, trainees had companies waiting to receive them and process the relevant documents or prepare a test to work in Japan.
Sambath said closing the centre was unfair and claimed that certain worker recruitment companies were jealous of Hatta’s success and had sought ways to get the ministry not to recognise it.
“Ask the department whether or not I have permission and why it claims there is no permission. And ask clearly who issued a permit and certificate,” he said.
A ministry list prepared on August 1 said that private agencies that have the right to recruit, train and send workers abroad and arrange educational services to go to Japan had numbered 102. Private agencies that were not on the list are deemed unlawful.
To avoid falling victim, any social media commercials for recruitment and the provision of job services to Cambodian migrant workers, especially on the radio, must have a permit from the ministry’s General Department of Labour, the ministry said.
Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) executive director Moeun Tola said Hatha had a licence to train people in the Japanese language.
But he claimed that hundreds of trainees were previously deceived out of $300 to $6,000 after the company allegedly placed false commercials claiming to act as a recruitment agency for workers to Japan.
“The centre just had a licence to offer short courses in skills training. But it did more than this, going by reports and complaints from the trainees.
“To register trainees, the centre told them that they will not just undergo a three-month training course and receive a certificate. It also played the role of a recruitment agent and claimed to train and send workers to Japan,” Tola said.
He said according to sub-decree No. 190, the government forbade employee recruitment companies to use schools or centres for training purposes, and potential employers had to run training courses for workers on their own.
Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng said Cambodian workers in Japan numbered over 9,000 and serve in the agriculture, food, furniture, mechanics, construction, weaving and sewing, industrial and elderly care sectors.