More than 100 former employees of the bankrupt mobile telephone company Mfone protested outside the firm’s shuttered offices in Phnom Penh on Monday, demanding that they receive salaries for working the month of February despite the company having already gone out of business.
The protest followed the appointment of an administrator, nominated by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to oversee the liquidation of Mfone’s assets, who posted an announcement stating that workers’ salaries had officially stopped being paid from February 1.
Mar Samoeun, 64, an administrative worker for Mfone who took part in the protest, said he had been at the company for 19 years and that he and nearly 1,200 staff working in Phnom Penh and in the provinces were asking that Mfone pay them for the month of February.
“I am old now and cannot really find another job, so I need my last payment to feed my family,” he said.
Last month, Smart Mobile, which is owned by the Cyprus-based Latelz Co. Ltd., filed a court complaint to collect unpaid bills from Mfone. Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has submitted a complaint alleging that Mfone owes more than $65 million in unpaid bills and Norwegian-owned Eltek claims it is owed $3.73 million.
The municipal court issued two injunctions, one on October 18 and another on January 17, in order to prevent Mfone from selling its assets. However, the company in January transferred its roughly 400,000 mobile phone subscribers to local phone operator MobiTel—a move the companies who have filed against Mfone say flouts the court’s injunctions.
Staff and management from Mfone met with officials at the Ministry of Labor on Monday in order to try and find a solution to the dispute over salaries.
Vong Savan, deputy secretary-general of the labor conflict commission at the Ministry of Labor, said that Mfone staff had originally demanded 75 percent of their pay since work stopped at the company in January. However, they agreed on Monday to lower their demands to 50 percent.
Nim Solida, a representative for Mfone, said the company would meet the workers’ demands to receive 50 percent of their wages.
“We agreed with the resolution of 50 percent and included some other advantages,” he said.