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Workers unsatisfied after gov’t pledge to pay salaries

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Workers from the Gawon Apparel garment factory block a road during a protest in Kandal province’s Takhmao town last December. Pha Lina

Workers unsatisfied after gov’t pledge to pay salaries

The Ministry of Labour said the government will compensate workers at 12 factories whose employers abruptly shuttered their businesses and fled without paying salaries or other benefits.

Its announcement, dated June 6 and obtained by The Post on Sunday, stated: “Understanding the realistic needs and concerns of garment workers, whose owners closed factories and escaped, Prime Minister Hun Sen has decided to set aside a budget as benefits for workers in 12 factories.”

The factories are located in Phnom Penh, Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces.

Meanwhile, the ministry also addressed protesting workers at Gawon Apparel (Cambodia) Co Ltd in Kandal, saying that they, too, would be compensated their salaries and other benefits at the Kandal Provincial Hall from June 8-10.

Khun Tharo, program coordinator at at NGO, Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central), said the allocation is a good sign for workers in the Kingdom.

“Workers need money for their daily needs, such as food. But I am concerned about the implementation of the pledge and whether it will actually pay what is owed,” he said.

However, the workers are less than pleased with their promised payouts. San Sokhorn, a 38-year-old garment worker, said she has been working at the factory for four years and only received $350 on Saturday.

Sokhorn has been unemployed for six months after the factory closed without any warning.

“I am not happy about it. I don’t understand why my payout is so low, and there is no transparency in the process. My landlord no longer lets me stay in my rented room. I don’t know how they calculated [the money]. We accepted it because we have no money for food. We are only given [seniority wages, our last salary and compensation,” she complained.

Sous Chakriya, 36, a garment worker for the past five years, said she also only received $350 on Sunday, and was unhappy with the amount.

“I am not happy because it is not fair. This has not been properly calculated,” she said.

Chakriya said a union told her that she should get up to $1,800 by their calculations. “With the amount of money I received, I cannot even pay my children’s school fees. We will keep protesting and continue to seek further intervention from the prime minister,” she said.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment.

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