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Ministry pledges funds to unpaid workers

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Garment workers stage a protest over unpaid wages in Kandal province in November. Pha Lina

Ministry pledges funds to unpaid workers

The Ministry of Labour has pledged to allocate a special fund to assist garment workers who were deprived of their wages following the closure of their factory at Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district amid the death of its owner.

The ministry’s Labour Dispute Committee deputy secretary-general Vong Sovann said officials visited Julee Apparel Factory at Por Sen Chey district’s Kakab commune yesterday, to investigate the protest carried out by the disgruntled workers.

“We met them and made a list of the more than 200 affected workers. Our next step is to request for an advance fund for these workers after calculating the actual costs. At this moment we don’t know how much they will receive,” he said.

Sovann was not able to say when the workers will receive their outstanding wages and other related benefits.

“We will think about workers’ wages and their benefits first. We still don’t know when they will get it.”

The workers were left in a limbo after the owner, a South Korean national, hanged himself at his residence in Kakab commune on July 30.

Commune police chief Phal Yuthea confirmed that 49-year-old Ju Doo Soo committed suicide in his house but did not reveal the reasons for his death.

The factory, a sub-contractor for international brands like Primark and Kie&Kie, ceased operations on August 1, following Ju’s death.

About 100 workers staged a protest outside their factory and blocked the roads for an hour last week demanding the company resolve their grouses immediately. The factory was in operation for only six months.

Srey Savorn, a 35-year-old mother of four, and her construction worker husband said the ministry will try to settle her unpaid wages by August 10. The workers have stopped protesting as well.

“We have no money and want them to solve this problem quickly. I have not started looking for a new job yet because I want to solve this problem first,” she said.

Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) program coordinator Khun Tharo welcomed the ministry’s intervention to provide funds to help the jobless workers.

“But we want other relevant parties, like unions, employers and workers to participate. We want the authorities to calculate the workers’ benefits based on the law so that they will not lose out,” he said.

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