A long wait for compensation

A long wait for compensation

Among nearly 200 migrant workers abandoned in Thailand by an employment agency last month, only a handful have received compensation and, despite filing a complaint with authorities, have heard nothing from officials.

Workers claim they filed a complaint about the Koun Khmer Training Center last month but have since been dealing with officials loath to take action on the issue.

“I am too busy to investigate this case,” said Tan Naven, chief of Phnom Penh’s Teuk Thla commune, where Koun Khmer operates offices.

A subdecree passed earlier this year to toughen regulations on notoriously abusive overseas recruiters gives officials 10 days to act on written complaints. Based on the workers’ accounts, rights groups say that Koun Khmer violated numerous regulations.

Agencies are meant to be responsible for the security, safety and accommodation of workers in the host country. Yet the Cambodian job seekers recruited under parent company APTSE & C allege they were charged up to $400 for promised factory and construction jobs and left abandoned in Thailand after employers failed to show.

“I stayed there for two weeks with no job and I had to spend my own money for living expenses,” said Bo Savoeun, 25, a representative of the swindled group.

Recruiters are also required to provide workers with a contract in Khmer that specifies the name and contact details of the overseas employer, in addition to embassy and consulate information. But Savoeun said he only briefly glimpsed a contract in Thai when he was asked to thumbprint it.

Despite repatriation conditions that state agencies’ responsibility in ensuring a safe return, Savoeun and other workers said that when they tried to call the agency after they were stranded, their calls went unanswered.

A Ministry of Labour spokesman declined to comment yesterday, but said last Sunday that written complaints had been received this year.

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