Dispute Brews Between Rubber Workers and New Land Owner

A dispute is brewing between a private company that has taken over the state-owned Chamkar Andong Rubber Plantation in Kompong Cham province and 50 former rubber tappers who have lived in the plantation’s staff housing for decades, but have now been told to move out.

In early November, the new owners, An Mardy Group Co, is­sued a letter stating that anyone who had been fired or no longer worked for the plantation had seven days, counting from the time of their dismissal or resignation, to remove themselves from Chamkar Andong Plantation property.

Fifty families who have lived on the plantation since the early 1980s say they are facing eviction but they won’t go without being compensated.

Phoeurn, 59, who stopped working for the plantation in May when it was taken over by An Mardy, said Friday that he has called the plantation home since 1981.

“We are really concerned because we have spent…decades working for the rubber plantation,” said Phoeurn, who would only give his first name for fear of retribution.

“I have no idea where I should move if I must relocate from this house,” said Bunruon, 57, who has lived at the plantation since 1984.

“We want them to give us ap­propriate compensation,” said Bunruon, adding that the 50 families facing eviction had maintained their plantation-owned houses for more than 20 years and should be compensated for that.

Representatives of the An Mardy company could not be reached for comment but Khout Chinda, governor of Chamkar Leu district where the plantation is situated, said the former plantation workers had no legal right to remain living on company land, but he would seek financial compensation.

“They’ve spent a long time there,” Khout Chinda said.

Also on Friday, Kompong Cham provincial police chief Nuon Sim said officers are investigating the alleged beating of a 10-year-old boy who was handcuffed to a rubber tree by private security guards at the Memot Rubber Plantation in Memot district. Police helped remove a locked handcuff from the boy’s right wrist, said Nuon Sim, ad­ding that the description of the guard provided by the boy was not clear.

Nuon Sim added that the boy was guilty of stealing rubber resin, but he was too young to arrest.

“My son was badly beaten, and they handcuffed him to a rubber tree. But he was able to work his left hand free from the handcuff while the plantation guards were chasing the other kids,” the boy’s father, Leah Eang, said Friday.

“He was just collecting a small amount of dirty resin to help pay his school fees,” he added.

Adhoc Provincial Coordinator Sim Heang said that officials need to pay attention to private guards administering violent pu­nishment to young children found on plantations.

“They are too small,” Sim Heang said. “They just steal dirty resin that they can sell for only 500 or 600 riel,” he said

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