Workers back after wage dispute

By: Chhay Channyda

On Sunday, 71 migrant workers returned to Cambodia after being denied pay and forced to work overtime at a fish farming and packing facility in Thailand.

According to one worker, who declined to be named, the Cambodians left in early April and worked more than 20 days at KCT factory in Thailand’s Pathumthani province. However, when the factory announced last week that the workers would not receive a paycheck on May 2, they contacted CDM Trading Manpower, the Cambodian agency that recruited them, and the company intervened.

“We asked why the Thai factory would not pay and they said the Cambodian company had borrowed 300,000 baht [about $9,200] from them,” he said, adding that CDM denied this.

Another worker, who also asked to remain anonymous, said company policy indicated each worker be compensated 300 baht ($9) for 8 hours of work, with an additional 56 baht per hour in overtime.

“We have worked overtime, more than 10 to 12 hours, even when we don’t want to,” he said.

Officials from the Ministry of Labour met with CDM and workers yesterday. The company promised to find the workers new jobs in Thailand and reimburse the missing salary within the month.

The ministry could not be reached for comment, but Chhay Leakhena, chairman of CDM, said the workers agreed and the issue had been resolved.

“Our company cares about workers’ living,” she said, but added, without elaborating, “[the issue] is not the factory not giving them salary; they caused trouble”.

Dy Thehoya, an officer for migrant workers at the Community Legal Education Center, said that before returning to Cambodia, the workers contacted CLEC to file a complaint but have not pursued further action since.