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Victim’s kin ‘no right to cash’

Rescue workers search rubble for survivors at a collapsed section of the Wing Star Shoes factory in Kampong Speu province
Rescue workers search rubble for survivors at a collapsed section of the Wing Star Shoes factory in Kampong Speu province last year. Pha Lina

Victim’s kin ‘no right to cash’

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has defended its decision not to pay a survivors’ pension to the family of a teenager killed in a ceiling collapse at the Wing Star Shoes factory in Kampong Speu province last May.

On the anniversary of the collapse on Friday, the Post reported that the family of Kim Dany had received only funeral costs from the NSSF following her death, because they were under the age of 55.

Sum Sophorn, deputy executive director of the NSSF, said in interviews on Friday and yesterday that the fund would not pay out any parents younger than 55 if their children were killed at work.

“The parents must be 55,” he said. “In the case of Kim Dany . . . her case has not fulfilled our conditions,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it is the first, second, third or 10th anniversary, her family won’t get any money.”

Under the law, survivors of an employee killed at work – including parents provided for by the victim, as in the case of Dany’s household – are eligible for a survivors’ pension. It does not appear to specify age restrictions.

Although Dany’s family received a “sizeable” payout from Asics – the Japanese company that sourced from Wing Star – and they are not seeking money from the NSSF, concerns were raised by labour rights group Solidarity Center that the NSSF’s failure to pay could set a precedent in an industry flooded with young workers.

But Sophorn said any such payments to a victim’s family would be “illegal”.

“We cannot pay money against our law, we will be guilty,” he said.

For each worker, employers are required to contribute a figure equivalent to 0.8 per cent of their salary to insure them in the event of injury or death.

Despite millions pouring into the NSSF from the garment industry, Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said it was a complicated process for victims to receive payouts.

“I think the NSSF must be responsible for everything for the victim’s family,” he said. “The NSSF must support the parents until they die.”

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