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Labour Ministry fines brick factory after girl loses arm

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Chheng Srey Pheak, 9, lost her right arm in an accident at a brick factory in Kandal province on Saturday. Photo supplied

Labour Ministry fines brick factory after girl loses arm

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training said on Monday it will file a criminal lawsuit against the owner of a Kandal province brick factory where a nine-year-old girl lost her right arm to a machine in an accident. The ministry had earlier fined the owner as well.

The ministry said its inspectorate team, National Social Security Fund (NSSF) officials and Kandal provincial department officials had investigated the clay kiln factory located in Preah Prasap village in Khsach Kandal district’s Preah Prasap commune.

Chheng Srey Pheak suffered her horrific injuries on Saturday at the kiln owned by Leang Srun, and the ministry decided to take action against him under Article 368 of the Labour Law for employing someone under 18 years.

The criminal suit against Srun is for using child labour and for the lack of safety measures to prevent children from entering the site.

Srey Pheak is currently being cared for at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh. Her treatment is covered by the NSSF’s programme and free of charge. She will receive rehabilitation services and be given a lifetime allowance for losing the ability to work.

Provincial Labour and Vocational Training Department director Thul Neang told The Post on Tuesday that it has publicised the law prohibiting the use of child labour to 68 factories in the province.

Neang said that because the factory provided accommodation for workers’ families, Srey Pheak had helped her parents to work and subsequently met with her tragic accident.

“The ministry issued its directive and we will proceed with legal action. We will file a lawsuit in accordance with the Labour Law. We have found that every [factory] has children of prohibited age working there,” he said.

Peng Leang, the manager at Srun’s factory, told The Post he did not allow children under 15 years old to work there or go near the brick-making machine. On the contrary, he said, the parents secretly use their children to help move the bricks onto carts and dry them under the sun.

“Generally, when I am not present, they secretly use their children to help with the work regardless of the danger, saying they have to earn money to pay off their debts."

“I have deep regret and pity for the girl, and our factory will help foot the medical bill until she recovers because it is also in part our responsibility to do so,” he said.

Leang said his factory houses eight families – 18 people over the age of 18 are employed while another 16 are children under 15.

The ministry advised all enterprises and institutions, including brick factories, not to use child labour.