About 50 legal Cambodian migrant workers were set to return home from Thailand today after becoming ill while working at a refrigerated seafood packing factory in Songkla province.
Hay Diep, 43, of Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town, said two of his children were among the returned workers, who asked that they be allowed to return after the excessively low working temperatures caused them to become sick.
“We contacted our children about their work and they told us that it was cold and that they couldn’t stand it, asking to come back,” Hay Diep said. He said he did not know the name of the factory.
Hay Diep said that according to his children, several hundred Cambodians were legally employed at the factory, but the returned workers were recent arrivals who had been employed for less than one month.
His children gained work at the factory through the CCM labour agency in Poipet, he said, and were promised 9,000 baht (US$298) per month, plus 30 baht per additional hour of overtime.
“I rang my children when they got fever,” said Hay Diep, a Kampong Cham native who has been living in Poipet for more than 10 years. “The employer gave them medicine, but my children remained sick, so I asked for help from the authorities.”
Initially, the factory authorities, who were holding the workers’ passports, wanted them to stay on. They eventually relented, however, and allowed them to return.
A Cambodian official at the Thai-Cambodian Border Relations Office in Poipet, who intervened in the case, said his office received a complaint from Hay Diep’s family on Monday, asking for help in the return of their children.
“We contacted the company and asked them to allow the workers’ return,” said the official, who declined to be named. He added that while the management of the factory was initially reluctant, they soon agreed to send the workers back.
The Phnom Penh office of the CCM labour agency could not be reached for comment yesterday.