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

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Aeon, Micromax partner again for third mall

    AEON Mall (Cambodia) Co Ltd and a locally-owned Micromax Co Ltd have entered into a partnership agreement to develop fibre optic infrastructure for $200 million Aeon Mall 3, which is expected to be opened in 2023. The agreement was signed on June 20 between Masayuki Tsuboya, managing director of

  • Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

    Walmart Inc, the world’s biggest retailer, on June 22 reiterated recent plans to scale up and greatly diversify its purchases of Cambodian products, according to the labour ministry. This came during a virtual working meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and