Garment Factory Owner Detained at Airport

Immigration police detained a Chi­nese garment factory owner on Tuesday night at Phnom Penh In­­ternational Airport following allegations she was attempting to flee without paying $40,000 in wages owed to 400 workers, officials said Wednesday.

Hu Shu Hau, owner of the You Cheng garment factory in Kandal province, is being temporarily de­tained by police without an arrest war­rant, airport police Chief Duong Ngeat said Wednesday.

She will remain detained until the salary issue is resolved, Duong Ngeat said.

“This is not a penal case or a cheating case,” he said. “We will let her go when both sides reach an agreement.”

Immigration police acted on a complaints made Tuesday by workers at the You Cheng factory who accused the owner of intending to shut the factory down without paying workers for the month of December.

“The workers are afraid that if we let her go, she will never come back,” Duong Ngeat said.

A factory manager said workers became suspicious when Hu, who usually drives a company car, left the factory in her own vehicle at the end of work Tuesday.

Factory chief administrator Sar Pheakdey said Wednesday that af­ter Hu left for the airport at 6 pm on Tuesday, he and unionized work­­ers filed a complaint with the im­migration police to arrest her.

Hu had announced earlier in the day that she planned to close the factory down in January, Sar Pheak­dey said.

“I think the factory owner does not want to offer the salary after she shut down the factory,” he said.

He added that the owner has also not paid the factory’s electric bill or monthly sewing machine ren­­­tal fees.

Hu, according to police, was tra­veling with $8,000 when de­tained at the airport. She told po­lice that workers’ wages would be paid in Jan­uary.

Chea Mony, Free Trade Union president, said Wednesday that ne­­gotiations are underway with the owner.

“If the factory owner does not sign a contract promising to pay the workers, we will take the matter to municipal court,” he said.


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