Social Affairs Ministry officials yesterday promised that about 750 workers from the shuttered Pine Great garment factory will receive their overdue salaries before the election.
The workers have been demanding their remaining wages and benefits since April, when the owner of the Meanchey district factory fled the country. In May, factory officials promised to pay the workers, but when workers arrived at the factory they found some of its equipment gone along with the officials.
Yesterday Touch Somuth, a member of the Social Affairs Ministry committee formed to resolve the issue, said the committee was “meeting with the workers so they can check their wage slips and thumbprint them if they agree our calculation is right”.
The committee was collecting the factory’s remaining equipment to sell in order to pay the workers, he said.
When asked if the announcement was intended to garner government support before the elections, Somuth said only that the workers would be paid even if the committee did not manage to do so by the election.
Worker Sam Sophorn, 38, said yesterday that she was thrilled by the news.
“We will get our money soon,” she said, adding that she was owed between $600 and $700 and needed the money to return home to vote.
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said it was likely that the government had promised to pay the workers both to prevent protests and disorder ahead of the elections and to sway workers in favour of the ruling party.
“The CPP realises now that the workers are important voters,” he said, noting the large pro-CPP garment workers’ rally attended by Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng in Phnom Penh yesterday and the government’s decision to erect a statue of slain unionist Chea Vichea.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JUSTINE DRENNAN