About 250 laborers working at a newly opened $90-million sugar factory complex in Kratie province—hailed by the government as a boon to Cambodia’s economy—staged a protest Saturday morning demanding to be reimbursed for two weeks worth of unpaid wages.
The protesters blocked a road leading to the factory in Sambor district’s O’Krieng commune from 7 a.m. until midday, when the factory’s owners—who claimed that a manager had stolen the money that he was supposed to pay staff with—promised to recompense the workers.
District governor Heng Sopha acted as a mediator during the protest and confirmed that the factory owners blamed a manager named Mr. Dang for stealing the money before fleeing, but said that they had solved the issue and workers had been paid and returned to work.
“The manager got the money from the company to pay staff, but then he escaped with the cash, although I understand that the company is still responsible for paying the workers,” he said, adding that police were searching for the culprit.
Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chay Ly oversaw the inauguration of the 7,000-hectare complex on May 26, and lauded it as one of the largest foreign-investment projects in Cambodia, with investment of $90.7 million.
The facility, owned by the Indochina Food Pte Ltd., a Vietnamese-Indian joint venture that produces sugar and operates a thermal energy plant, consists of a 20,000-hectare sugar plantation, a sugar refinery that produces 3,500 tons of sugarcane per day, a 20-megavolt power plant, and a 30-kiloliters-per-day ethanol distillery, according to the company’s website.