Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Workers paid out on doorstop of election

Workers paid out on doorstop of election

Garment workers demonstrate against Pine Great factory owner and appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife
Garment workers demonstrate against Pine Great factory owner and appeal to Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany, in front of the Social Affairs Ministry earlier this month. VIREAK MAI

Workers paid out on doorstop of election

A months-long battle to secure back pay waged by 750 garment workers has ended only days before the national election — with the government footing the bill.

The $450,000 payout to the Pine Great (Cambodia) factory workers, whose factory owner skipped town in April, is being financed through a loan from the national budget, with payment to be made today.

Workers previously expressed concern that they would be unable to pay transportation costs so they could cast ballots if they did not receive their pay by Friday. They further vowed to protest in front of the Ministry of Social Affairs on Election Day if the wages remained unpaid.

Upon hearing the news, the out-of-pocket employees “laughed and thanked Prime Minister Hun Sen for helping them receive their wages after spending more than three months demanding” them, Keo Sokhom, a worker representative, said yesterday.

Touch Somuth, a member of a Ministry of Social Affairs committee formed to handle the dispute, said that because Pine Great’s Chinese owner had fled the country, the committee had decided to try to distribute pay to all workers at the Meanchey district factory today.

Those who could not make it, he added, could pick up their money at the Ministry of Social Affairs.

While in favour of the decision to pay the workers money rightfully owed to them, Moen Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, questioned the timing of the payments.

“We see political manipulation more than commitment to the sole issue,” Tola said yesterday.

Rather than paying money out of the public budget, the government should set up a system where companies deposited a certain amount of money to avoid complications like those seen at Pine Great if a company became insolvent, Tola said.

Regardless of the government’s motive behind the payments or how they were going about making them, Sokhom said the action secured the Pine Great workers’ votes.

“We will go to vote, and we will vote for Cambodian People’s Party, because they always help the workers,” Sokhom said.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Economy and Finance paid out $6.5 million to more than 7,000 workers at Yung Wah, a Gap supplier, who were owed compensation.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • Sam Rainsy, government group set to clash at IPU Geneva meet?

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy has been invited to speak at the General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, according to a former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) lawmaker. A government delegation is also set to attend the meeting, a National Assembly press release