Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Staff of shuttered Kandal factories to share $1.2M after sale of seized equipment

Phin Sophea, a representative for workers at the shuttered Dignity Knitter and ECO Base factories, speaks to colleagues after meeting with authorities to discuss plans to pay outstanding salaries and bonuses following the auction of equipment seized from the factories. Panha Chhorpoan
Phin Sophea, a representative for workers at the shuttered Dignity Knitter and ECO Base factories, speaks to colleagues after meeting with authorities to discuss plans to pay outstanding salaries and bonuses following the auction of equipment seized from the factories. Panha Chhorpoan

More than 1,000 workers from two shuttered factories will be paid out a share of $1.2 million on February 12 after authorities found a buyer for goods seized from their former employers, authorities said, more than a year after bosses stopped paying salaries and then shut the factories in Kandal province.

About 500 workers waited outside the Dignity Knitter factory to hear the news following a meeting between workers and officials on Tuesday, after an unnamed buyer offered more than $1.1 million for the equipment at the third attempt to auction it on February 5.

“With the $160,000 the factory owner deposited at the Labor Ministry and the sale, we have a total of more than $1.2 million to provide to the workers,” Kandal Provincial Governor Kong Sophorn told CamboJA.

The committee formed to recoup the money had set a reserve price at $1,777,000 but accepted $1,110,009 in order to finally bring an end to the saga and after two failed auction attempts, said Yim Kethy, bailiff at the provincial court.

Workers from the Dignity Knitter and ECO Base factories had for months been guarding the factories and the machinery inside for 24 hours a day, after several attempts by bosses to retrieve the equipment.

They had been claiming wages and bonuses withheld since December 2019, when the factories began to scale down operations before three months of work suspensions leading up to the official shutdown in June.

“I think all workers will receive between $800 and $1,500,” said Phin Sophea, a representative for the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU) at Dignity Knitter, where he has worked for 14 years.

Sophea delivered the news to some 500 colleagues after meeting with officials from the provincial court, provincial government, Anti-Corruption Unit and Labor Ministry on Tuesday morning.

“Myself and other workers are extremely happy because we waited more than a year for a solution,” he said.

Mr Sophea said that the $1,400 he would receive would not, however, be enough to pay back the loans he had taken while unemployed and fighting for a resolution over the past year.

Prum Chamroeun, who worked at Dignity Knitter from 2006, also said she was relieved after a year of unemployment.

“I will receive compensation of more than $1,300,” she said.

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