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Trainees escape from Tuol Kork labour firm

Trainees escape from Tuol Kork labour firm

Labour recruitment firm GPGC International PTE Ltd closed on Saturday after 19 of its workers reportedly left the company’s headquarters in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district on Friday night.

A district police officer who declined to be named said yesterday that the women had shown up at the local police office complaining of coercive conditions and a lack of food at GPGC. Police sent the workers back to GPGC in order to be reunited with their parents, he added.

“When I went to the company to see whether the company really detained the workers and didn’t give them food as the workers said, what I saw was different from what the workers said,” the officer said.

Tuol Kork governor Seng Ratanak said that police and court officials had investigated the situation at the firm on Saturday following the girls’ escape and claimed that all 27 trainees at GPGC had been allowed to return home.

“The company did not prevent them from going back home, but the company needs the workers’ parents to pay nearly 2 million riel (around US$500),” Seng Ratanak said.

“The company director said that he did not believe the parents would pay back the money, but he agreed that [the trainees] could leave.” But Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, said yesterday that he was concerned that the trainees could be prevented from returning home.

“I am afraid the authorities colluded with the company to keep the workers detained,” he said.

Representatives from GPGC International could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, two recruits from Top Manpower Recruitment Agency left the firm’s headquarters in Meanchey district on Thursday amid claims from a local rights group that the company had detained them.

Am Sam Ath, senior monitor at the rights group Licadho, said that the women had fled because they found it difficult at the company and missed their families.

“They were forced to study and could not go outside,” he said.

Representatives from Top Manpower Recruitment could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Kingdom’s labour recruitment sector has been embroiled in scandal in recent months, as women from several different agencies have claimed they have been held at training centres against their will.

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