Government to cough up for workers’ unpaid wages

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Labour Ministry officials meet with workers’ representatives todiscuss unpaid wages on September 10. Heng Chivoan

The Labour Ministry on Wednesday told workers of the now-defunct Lida Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district to come to the plant on Friday to receive their unpaid wage.

The ministry said: “All employees who have contracts, for either fixed or non-fixed term, shall be present at the factory location on October 5 from 8:00am to 11:30am.”

The ministry instructed the workers to claim their wages personally by presenting one of the following – their employment contract, family book, employee ID or pay slip, in addition to their National Social Security Fund card and national ID or Passport.

Last month, 257 Lida Garment’s workers held a rally at the company’s plant, after learning that factory owner, Zhou Gong Bing, had fled for unknown reasons. They have been left jobless and their wages have not been paid.

The government has allocated more than $4 million in severance to compensate them.

Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the minister, Ith Sam Heng, to use a special budget for the purpose to compensate the workers, find them new jobs and create a mechanism to prevent factory owners from abandoning their plants and fleeing.

Earlier in March, the ministry issued a statement that the government will take strong action, including legally seizing company assets if factory owners abandon their businesses without paying all outstanding wages owing to their workers.

The statement reads: “If the factory’s owners or representatives are present, they must provide a solution to the workers. If they abscond and/or don’t have money to compensate their workers or are unable to find other solutions, the ministry will follow the court’s procedures,” the statement reads.

The ministry said it will seize and sell the factory’s assets and use the proceeds to pay the workers.

In February, the government distributed $4.6 million to compensate workers from nine garment factories that had been shuttered and whose bosses absconded.