The Ministry of Labor has ordered a private labor recruitment firm to suspend recruitment of Cambodian laborers to work in Saudi Arabia, a ministry official said Thursday.
Hem Bunny, director of the ministry’s employment and manpower department, said Labor Minister Nhep Bunchin ordered the ACCEP-Group to suspend the recruitments two weeks ago.
Hem Bunny added that the decision was made after rumors circulated that Cambodian laborers would be mistreated and could have their arms and legs of cut off in Saudi Arabia. “We do not say we believe or we do not believe the rumor but we have to consider it first,” Hem Bunny said, adding: “We have to have prevention and to have legal procedure before they go to that country.”
Hem Bunny said there is not yet an official signed agreement between Cambodia and Saudi Arabia regarding migrant laborers, although there are 34 Cambodians working there, and there is an unofficial agreement for 20,000 to 25,000 Cambodian workers to go there each year.
“Neither side is wrong but we need to have a reorganization for our people’s safety,” he said, adding that a delegation led by Nhep Bunchin will travel to Japan and South Korea next week to discuss opportunities for Cambodians to work in those countries.
Nhep Bunchin on Friday declined to comment.
A representative of ACCEP-Group who declined to be named said the firm sent 34 laborers to work in Saudi Arabia three months ago, and that the firm has since interviewed them there.
Some are working as drivers and others in factories, he said.
“They sent money to their families recently. Some sent $400 to $1,000 and some just called me [Thursday] and expressed happiness and wished me well,” he said.
The representative said the spreading of the rumors about mistreatment may be a political issue.
“We will invite ministers and parliamentarians to visit and inspect those [workers] in Saudi Arabia. If they have no money we will provide a ticket,” he added.