Firm Says New Rules May Keep Workers From Going to S Korea

The Ministry of Labor has or­dered Cambodia Labor Supply, the lar­gest company sending workers to South Korea, to comply with new reg­ulations that will hinder it in dispatching workers to Korea and po­tentially threaten the jobs of more than 1,000 Cambodians, company officials said Tuesday.

CLS Chief Executive Officer Mei­dine Natchear said the ministry has for­bidden her company to col­lect­ fees from workers prior to their de­parture for South Korea, and said her firm cannot cover its own costs if this initial payment is not made.

The ministry has also required her company to deposit $100,000 in its bank account immediately, add­ing that she has currently only de­posited $40,000.

“If the company doesn’t have the money, the company should close,” Labor Ministry Employment and Manpower Department Director Hem Bunny said on Tuesday.

Hem Bunny pointed out that in March, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a decree prohibiting companies from collecting fees from workers in advance or demanding bank guarantees from the workers.

An April 10 letter from Korean Fed­eration of Small and Medium Bus­inesses Commissioner Lee Hyun-moo to Hun Sen states that un­­less CLS can collect the fees prior to the departure of workers or ob­tain guarantees, Cambodia’s 2006 quota for workers entering South Kor­ea will be transferred to another country.

The deadline for CLS to submit its list of 2,100 applicants for work in Korea, of whom half will be chosen for jobs, is April 24, Meidine Natch­ear said.

CLS’ dispatching cost for each Cambodian worker who goes to Korea is $2,915, which covers airfare, training and Korean language lessons, Meidine Natchear said.

Cambodians can earn $800 a month over the course of the two-year apprenticeships, she added.

CLS is the largest of three firms that send workers to South Korea un­der the apprenticeship program.

There are two systems by which Cambodia can send workers to South Korea—the small business federation apprentice program and the guest worker permit.


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