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Trainee hurt fleeing labour firm

Trainee hurt fleeing labour firm

A 30-YEAR-OLD woman training to work as a domestic servant suffered light injuries early yesterday morning after she fashioned a rope out of various pieces of clothing and tried to rappel down the side of a three-storey training centre in the capital’s Sen Sok district, officials said.

Pen Thol, the police chief in Toek Thla commune, said Battambang native Vann Synoun was trying to escape from the facility, operated by the VC Manpower Company, because she missed her family.

He said, though, that VC Manpower had not detained her at the centre. Instead, he said, Vann Synoun decided to leave without asking for permission beforehand because she was convinced the company would say no.

“She told us that she wants to run from the company because she misses her husband and children very much and she could not control herself, so she decided to slide down at 4am on Sunday when the other people were asleep,” Pen Thol said.

He said company security guards found Vann Synoun shortly after her fall and took her to a private clinic for treatment. “She was not seriously injured,” he said.

However, Vann Synoun could not be reached for comment yesterday.

VC Manpower, which trains young women to work abroad as domestic servants, has been on the radar of local officials since July, when a woman fled one of its training centres and said she had been held there against her will. Days later, officials announced that they had found 24 underage workers being trained by the company.

The Labour Ministry briefly barred the firm from recruiting clients, but then absolved it of wrongdoing soon after, saying the girls had forged documents to demonstrate they were of age.

On August 2, Long Sakan filed a complaint against VC Manpower accusing staff members at a Phnom Penh training centre of abusing her daughter, who has since gone to work in Malaysia. Later that month, Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a summons for company director Sen Ly. However, when police went to question him on August 16, Sen Ly was in Preah Vihear province, and police apparently did not follow up.

Yesterday, Pol Khemra, deputy director of the Department of Police at the Interior Ministry, said officials had opted to “suspend” the complaint against Sen Ly.

“We decided to suspend the complaint against him after we met with the company’s lawyer,” Pol Khemra said.

“The victims did not cooperate with us, and they would not stand to face the company representative.”

Pen Thol said yesterday that police would not launch a new investigation into the company’s operations in response to the escape attempt of Vann Synoun.

He said VC Manpower had told Vann Synoun she was welcome to return to Battambang, and that it had also paid US$200 for her treatment at the private clinic.

“The company did not take any money back from her for her fee because she is poor,” he said.

Sen Ly said that Vann Synoun’s injuries were minor.

“She just got a slight injury on her chin, and we have instructed her family to come and bring her back home,” he said.

Pen Thol offered the following message for prospective migrant workers: “If you think you will miss your family, you should not go to work in another country because you will create problems for the recruitment companies that spend a lot of money to get documents for you.”

There are 28 firms licenced by the Labour Ministry to train workers and send them abroad. The ministry is currently drafting a sub-decree establishing regulations that would prohibit recruitment centres from detaining trainees or loaning them money.

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