A migrant worker has appealed for help in finding a new job after accusing her South Korean employer of unpaid wages, abuse and poor working conditions.
“I suffer every day. I try my utmost but my employer does not appreciate my effort,” said Rim Sreyrom who travelled to Miryang city to work as a farm hand.
Sreyrom said she expected to earn more than $1,000 a month, but her employers had not paid her salary for over 42 days before finally succumbing and offering up only 630,000 South Korean won (about $500).
“My employer told me that if I don’t improve my performance then she will fire me. I’ve repeatedly told her that I want to leave this workplace, but she demands 800,000 won ($670) from me.
“I am a new employee so I cannot pick 1,700 to 1,800 vegetables per day as the experienced staff can. Since I’m only able to pick 1,000 pieces, my employer gets frustrated and shoves my vegetable basket into my legs.
“Sometimes, my employer orders me to sleep because she does not want me to work. When she wants me to work, she orders me to start working at 12:30pm when regular shifts begin at 1:00pm. She is not tolerant or understanding at all,” she told The Post on Monday.
Sreyrom, who receives an hourly wage, said her employer is physically and verbally abusive towards her. She claimed her boss had forbidden her from wearing hats and gloves when it was cold and injured her leg by shoving a vegetable basket towards them.
She said she had appealed to Cambodian officials to help her legally leave her workplace so that she can find work elsewhere without having to spend money. She said she would be best suited for work that does not make her “exhausted” and also pays well.
“Most importantly, my employer should be empathetic as I am a new staff. I told [them] I would try my best, despite never having done this sort of work before,” said Sreyrom.
Some 54,000 Cambodians have travelled to South Korea since the two countries reached a memorandum of understanding on human resource development in 2017.
About 4,000 Cambodians are currently working in South Korea. They earn about $1,200 to $1,300 a month for working in the agricultural sector and $1,700 to $1,800 for working in the industrial sector.
The jobs are highly sought after, with employees often attending Korean-language and cultural classes before travelling abroad.
Last month, South Korea’s Human Resource Development Unit named Cambodia as the best among 16 developing countries to send workers there.
Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour told The Post that the counsellors in charge of Cambodia migrant workers at the Cambodian Embassy in South Korea and diplomats in Seoul were investigating the matter in tandem with South Korean authorities.
Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights programme manager Khun Tharo advised workers to seek help from Korean police or the Cambodian Embassy in Seoul.
“The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training should monitor and inspect the agents that sent the worker there . . . what company was it and where did they send her? The ministry should have this information,” he said.