Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday demanded answers as to why garment workers from First Gawon Apparel Cambodia Co Ltd, in the capital’s Meanchey district, had still not been compensated when $4.6 million was made available to the Ministry of Labour in March this year for such purposes.
It was previously reported that First Gawon Apparel’s employer had abruptly closed the factory and left without paying the workers’ salaries.
Speaking when he met over 16,000 garment workers from 10 factories in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district on Wednesday, the premier expressed shock and anger at the workers’ predicament.
“Why is this case still ongoing? Why have the workers not been paid yet? Please give me a report as to why. Why have the relevant ministries not solved this case? “Some of these workers wanted to complain and protest about their problem directly at my house. Some camped outside. What are the problems? I want to know about this situation,” he said.
Hun Sen said he was aware that some factory owners, when faced with financial difficulties, fled without paying workers.
“I have reserved funds and made available $4.6 million to the Ministry of Labour to help the workers in cases such as this, when their factory’s owners ran away without paying them. But such a situation now still exists in the Chak Angre commune,” he said.
The Ministry of Labour said since 2007, nine factory owners had fled without paying salaries. Of that number, workers from four factories have so far received compensation while the five other cases are pending.
Secretary-General of the Labour Ministry’s Dispute Resolution Department Prak Chan Thoeun said on Wednesday the ministry is expediting the process of each case to deliver a solution as soon as possible.
However, he declined to comment about the reserved funds the government had set aside.
On Wednesday, factory workers from First Gawon Apparel organised a demonstration to demand their wages. They were happy to hear Hun Sen, however, pressure the Labour Ministry to find a solution for them.
Union chief Kem Makara at First Gawon Apparel told The Post: “I am extremely delighted after hearing Samdech Hun Sen’s speech this morning. I believe that the ministry will help solve the compensation problem for workers soon.”
According to Makara, organising a protest is always a last resort for factory workers. He said before organising the demonstration, they had waited since December 2017 for a solution with the factory owner allegedly saying they “have a cash flow problem”.