Nearly 200 Migrant Workers Duped Out of $260

A group of 50 migrant workers on Wednesday protested outside a branch of a recruitment agency in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district that they say duped them out of $260 they paid for a guarantee of employment in Thailand.

The 50 workers, who were part of a group of 187 workers that traveled to Thailand on August 18, demanded that the APTSE & C (Cambodia) Resources agency reimburse them in full, as the fee bought them only forged documents and false hope.

When APTSE & C transported the nearly 200 workers to Thailand on August 18, Thai military police rounded them up, informed them their employment documents had been forged and sent them back to Cambodia on Monday.

“We protested to make this company face the law because they cheated us,” said migrant worker Kheng Chan, 30.

“They took our money, but lied to us.”

APTSE & C, whose head office is in Meanchey district, is one of nearly 50 agencies enlisted by the Ministry of Labor to help illegal migrant workers who fled the Thai junta in June return with proper documents—a process that should cost only $49.

But the ministry has admitted that it is not actively monitoring the enlisted agencies and only takes action when a complaint is filed against them. A number of agencies in the past two months have been found to be either overcharging workers for finding work in Thailand or allowing subcontractors to recruit workers using their companies’ name.

Seng Sithchey, who is named as the contact person for APTSE & C by the Ministry of Labor, could not be reached for comment.

But Yim Udom, an employee at the firm’s Sen Sok office, said the company has reimbursed workers $60 each so far and would pay more later.

Some 250,000 Cambodian workers fled back to the country from Thailand in June fearing violence at the hands of the Thai junta, which had moved to clean the country of illegal and unregistered migrant workers.

However, tens of thousands have since returned to work across the border with the Ministry of Labor estimating last week that about 660,000 Cambodians, about 5 percent of the country’s population, are currently employed in Thailand.

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