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Job Seekers Want Money Returned from Recruitment Agencies

Cambodian workers wait for their documents to be processed at the Aranyaprathet police station as they prepare to move back to Cambodia in Sa Kaew June 15, 2014. Due to shortage of employment back home, many Cambodian workers try to find jobs overseas.

Some 200 Cambodians are seeking legal assistance from a rights organization reclaim more than $80,000 in back pay from two employment agencies, which they say failed to find them jobs in Japan as promised.

The group is seeking compensation from Rice Natural Company and Century Cambodia Manpower, alleging that they had paid money for guarantees of employment within six months in Japan’s agricultural, industrial and construction sectors.

Chhan Sokunthea, head of the alternative dispute resolution program for the rights group Adhoc, which is helping the claimants, said she is seeking a meeting with Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng later this month to seek assistance in having the money returned.

“Our side will request to meet the minister to push for the withdrawal of deposited money amounted to $100,000 to compensate the victims,” she said.

In a statement Thursday, Adhoc said the two companies had failed to fulfill their promises to job seekers. The Ministry of Labor has already requested both companies suspend recruitment until a resolution is found.

“Most of the 201 workers borrowed money from the banks or private money lenders with high interest rates,” Chhan Sokunthea said. Now, without work, they face foreclosures or seizures of homes and farmland, she said.

Officials at the Ministry of Labor could not immediately be reached for comment. Phun Sovannarith, head of Rice Natural, and Dul Yuth, head of Century Cambodia Manpower, did not return calls requesting comment.

Rey Thareach, a 21-year-old complainant, said Rice Natural had promised her work by December 2014, but she was never sent. She filed a complaint in April.

“I want to demand some money and my passport back,” she said. “I feel upset, but I didn’t know to do when they did this too me.”