Category Archives: Cambodia

34 Cambodian Muslims deported

SA KAEO: Police have deported 34 Cambodian Muslims, rejecting their travel requests to work in the deep South due to their failure to meet immigration requirements.

The group — 32 males and 2 females — was told to return to the Cambodian border town of Poipet Thursday just after they had crossed the Thai-Cambodian frontier in Sa Kaeo.

Thai officers said they needed to temporarily detain them after learning their true purpose in order to “prevent any misunderstanding”. Sa Kaeo immigration police chief Pol Col Benchaphon Rotsawat asked Cambodian authorities to join the investigation into the travellers’ status.

All of them were travelling on tourist visas but many said they planned to work in the southern provinces.

Others claimed Thailand was just their transit point, as they planned to travel to Malaysia for work through a checkpoint in Narathiwat’s Sungai Kolok district in the deep South.

By law, foreigners from neighbouring countries will be allowed to pursue jobs in Thailand only under the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the respective governments.

However, the officers on Thursday found their trips were “not endorsed” by authorised officials and the group could not tell them exactly where they planned to stay in Thailand.

An inspection also found that each of them brought between 1,000 and 3,000 baht, which fell short of the minimum requirement of 20,000 baht.

Also on Thursday, railway police in Songkhla’s Hat Yai district dealt with a similar case of illegal travellers involving three Cambodian Muslims.

They found alleged irregularities with three female passengers who were aboard a train from Bangkok to Sungai Kolok in Narathiwat.

Two of them did not have passports while the other did not have her passport stamped properly.

The group — Kho Navy, 29, Math Hanifas, 55 and Sos Simah, 31 — told officers they came from Poipet and were on their way to Malaysia.

Police suspect their trip was organised by a gang linked with human traffickers.

Earlier this month, they found three Cambodian youths studying at a pondok, an Islamic religious school, in Pattani’s Mayo district.

The school broke no laws and had no connection with the southern insurgency, but the youngsters were among 11 foreign students who were arrested for not having proper visas.

Source: Bangkok Post
Published on 22 February 2019
Link: https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1632914/34-cambodian-muslims-deported

[Cambodia] PM: Stop firing workers as way to end disputes

Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on factory owners to stop dismissing workers as a way to end disputes. Instead, he urged dialogue and instructed the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training to ensure all legal mechanisms are followed to avoid protests.

A union leader hailed the prime minister’s comments, saying protection from the prime minister regarding unfair dismissal is a positive development for Cambodian workers.

“I call on all factory owners to not use dismissal in disputes. Dialogue between factory owners, unions and worker representatives is really the best way,” he told around 10,000 garment workers from 34 factories in Kandal province on Wednesday.

The prime minister raised the example of Bangladesh, where more than 5,000 protesting workers were fired in January. He said it was the wrong approach, with factories in Cambodia also seeing such mass sackings until he had intervened to help fired workers get re-employed.

“Factory owners need to pay attention to the welfare of workers. Workers have good health but we must also pay attention to improving their education . . . Factory owners also need to remember that without workers they would not be factory owners, but merely the owners of warehouses.

“And workers – if there is no factory, you are not workers either,” Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen said he had instructed the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training to work on the issue. Workers with grievances should not be treated as criminals and dismissed, he said.

If a worker was sacked for a criminal matter, he said, the courts should deal with it, but in labour disputes, staff should not be fired, but dialogue opened and educational measures taken.

His appeal came as workers at factories across the country have been fired for differing reasons. These include 1,000 workers at the W&D Factory in Phnom Penh who were sacked after demanding their company calculate their seniority pay. The dispute is ongoing, with the protest lasting three months already.

Srey Neang, who is among the 1,000 sacked by the W&D Factory and is involved in the protest, said following the prime minister’s comments that she hoped a solution could be found and she would soon be re-employed.

She said she has faced financial difficulties since being sacked,with her husband’s income used to cover rent and their children’s schooling.

“After [Prime Minister Hun Sen] said this, I hope to see results because I have seen nothing positive so far. No one has come to help us solve this problem. I want a job and I want [Hun Sen] to help quickly. I have not had a job for two months now and I have no money,” she said.

Ken Loo, the secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), declined to comment on Wednesday, saying he was in a meeting.

National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia (NACC) president Som Aun welcomed Hun Sen’s call, saying that in the past, many workers had been dismissed for a range of reasons, including those that appeared discriminatory.

He said protection from the prime minister regarding unfair dismissal is a positive development for the Kingdom’s workers.

“Some employers have discriminated against unions, dismissing their representatives, and fired workers illegally. Therefore, the comments from the prime minister, I think, sends a message that will urge employers to better follow the law,” he said.

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour and Kaing Monika, deputy general-secretary of GMAC, could not be reached for comment.

W&D Factory’s owner fired some 1,200 employees in early January after protests calling for improved conditions. The factory issued an ultimatum – supported by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court – that striking workers return to their jobs within 48 hours or be dismissed.

The workers responded to the ultimatum by occupying the factory, with representatives saying they would not back down until their demands are met.

According to the Labour Ministry, factory owners must pay their workers a seniority payment twice a year in June and December, as well as severance pay upon conclusion of an employment contract.’

The prime minister Hun Sen on January 9 warned unions to stop organising demonstrations and strikes to demand benefits from factory owners. He said such action could spin out of hand and force around two-thirds of the Kingdom’s factories, approximately 800 of the country’s 1,159 factories, to close down due to insufficient funds.

“If factories close down, the one who suffers the consequences is not the factory owner. The ones who first see consequences are the workers who used to have jobs and earn an income,” he said at the time.

Written by Long Kimmarita
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 21 February 2019
Link: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/pm-stop-firing-workers-way-end-disputes

Prime Minister Hun Sen announces free legal aid for garment workers

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Wednesday that factory workers will have access to legal representation free of charge once his volunteer group of his lawyers is established, while civil society groups say the government should instead improve labour law enforcement.

Delivering a speech to garment workers in Kandal province on Wednesday, Hun Sen said he had allocated $500,000 from his own budget to create a group of 50 lawyers to defend disadvantaged women, particularly widows – and that garment workers could also seek help from them free of charge.

“I have already officially decided. Now I have 2,000 million riel or $500,000 in my hand to finance the work of my lawyers. But I am asking Ky Tech, the head of the government’s lawyers, to help me in preparing [the group]. This is not from the state budget. It is a budget I raised to establish a group of lawyers to defend poor clients,” he said.

He said the 50 lawyers would be deployed across Cambodia, with two lawyers for each province and Phnom Penh. They would come under the management of one head and four deputy heads.

“[It is] for defending women who are in prison. This is the policy for our women. I will make it happen in a short period of time. Nieces [and] nephews, as garment workers, if [you] have court cases, do not forget to seek help from my lawyers free of charge,” Hun Sen said.

National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia president Som Aun said he supported the move, believing that poor women, especially female garment workers, would now have qualified defence lawyers to help them if they found themselves in court.

“Currently, we notice that when the poor and weak have problems in court, most of them do not have the capacity to hire lawyers because they do not have enough money, and some lawyers are not so experienced. This means they lose a lot of their cases,” he said.

Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) executive director Moeun Tola praised the positive intentions in creating the lawyers’ group but wanted the government, through the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, to provide unions with the freedom to operate and have other related rights as stated in the Labour Law.

He said the government should put its weight behind improving the work of officials who mediate in labour disputes as some abused their position.

“Labour inspectors have rights to judge who is right and wrong. Mediating officials do not have the right to do so.”

“They only have the right to explain the law regarding employers’ and employees’ responsibilities. So let the two parties try to reconcile. If they don’t reach a deal, the mediators can file a report with the minister [of Labour and Vocational Training] and the arbitration council.”

“In general, we observe that mediators act beyond their remit. They act as judges in deciding whether employers are right or workers are wrong . . . Workers have pointed out that when mediators behave like that, it can involve corruption,” he said.

Ministry’s spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment.

 Written by Khorn Savi
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 21 February 2019
Link: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/prime-minister-hun-sen-announces-free-legal-aid-garment-workers

300,000 migrants expected to leave kingdom for Songkran

An exodus of nearly 300,000 migrant workers is expected from April 5-30 when they visit hometowns for the Songkran festival in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Labour Minister Pol General Adul Sangsingkeo, following a meeting of the Migrant Worker Management and Anti-Human Trafficking Sub-committee on Wednesday, told reporters that the meeting resolved to allow Cambodian, Lao and Burmese workers whose non-immigrant L-A visas were valid at least until April 30 to head home during Songkran without having to pay a fee.

Children under-18 could travel with them, the minister added.

If the workers returned to the kingdom after April 30, they would be given a visa stamp that would be valid until the old visa’s expiry date and they would have to pay a Bt2,000 fee, he warned.

 In April 2018 240,251 migrant workers went home.

This Songkran it was expected that nearly 300,000 would do so.

Source: The Nation
Published on 20 February 2019
Link: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30364467

Cambodian workers to get Japan opportunity

The Japanese government will offer an opportunity for specialised Cambodian workers to work in Japan through a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that might be signed in April, Minister of Labour and Vocational Training, Ith Sam Heng said.

After meeting with Japanese ambassador to Cambodia, Hidehisa Horinouchi, Sam Heng on Monday told reporters at the ministry that the Kingdom’s high-skilled workers will have a chance to work in Japan after Tokyo amended its labour regulations, specifying changes on matters related to recruiting, training and importing foreign workers.

“HE Mr Horinouchi came today to officially inform us of the plan to make Japan’s labour market accessible for highly-skilled Cambodian workers in accordance with a recent law amendment in the country,” he said.

Sam Heng said the new framework would enable qualified workers to have a good job, earn a high salary and help Japan meets its labour demands.

He also noted that sending Cambodian officials and specialised workers to Japan would improve cooperation between the two countries.

The two governments, Sam Heng said, are discussing preparations to draft the MoU prior to the tentative start of the programme in April this year.

“H.E. Mr Horinouchi told me that the work will be implemented in April 2019. At this moment, both governments are working on the MoU of the cooperation,” he said.

Kin Phea, the director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, expressed his support for the initiative. He said sending professional workers to Japan could benefit the Kingdom’s economy and the workers themselves.

“It would contribute to the progress of the national economy and improvement of workers’ living standards,” he said.

Labour Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour and the Japanese Embassy in Phnom Penh could not be reached for additional comment on Monday.

The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training said some 9,000 Cambodian workers are currently employed in Japan.

Written by Mech Dara
Source: Phnom Penh Post
Published on 19 February 2019
Link: https://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/cambodian-workers-get-japan-opportunity

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