Workers from the Yung Wah Industrial (Cambodia) factories block a road in Kandal province last week. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post
A provincial deputy governor claimed yesterday he had been given $6.5 million — supposedly borrowed from the national budget — to pay out about 7,000 stranded workers at the closed-down Yung Wah garment factories in Kandal province’s Takhmao town.
“The money that we have to pay workers is about $6.5 million. We will pay some this evening and more tomorrow until they receive it all,” Kandal deputy governor Phai Bun Chhoeun said.
The two factories, which closed in late December, would be sold, along with the equipment and merchandise in them, Bun Chhoeun said.
“After that, we will work with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to sue the employer to pay the rest back to us.”
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo, however, said that although workers could be owed as much as $4.5 million, he did not expect the company’s assets to sell for more than about $1 million.
Loo said the owners of Yung Wah I and II had not fled, as the workers claimed, but the company had simply gone into liquidation.
“Workers do not grasp this process,” he said, adding that the government was under no obligation to pay workers beyond what was raised by selling the factories.
“There’s no additional money that’s going to drop from the sky.”
Workers have protested at the factory since last Tuesday, blocking a road and demanding wages and remaining benefits.
Workers’ representative Sok Phalla, said yesterday protesters had been told they would be paid as much as $1,400 each.
Meanwhile, Loo hit out at Monitoring in the Dark, a report issued on Monday that is critical of Better Factories Cambodia’s reporting of conditions in garment factories.
“But they [the researchers] didn’t speak to a single factory,” he said.
“Many of the points made were inaccurate and flawed.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]
Shane Worrell at [email protected]