A crowd of 300 laborers protested in front of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs Wednesday to demand the return of $500 deposits they lost when a jobs program that would have sent them to Greece collapsed.
It has been nearly five months since many of the workers paid the deposits so they could get $5-an-hour jobs in Athens building a stadium complex and highway for the 2004 Olympics.
They were hired by a Canadian-based construction company, JRN International Corp, through Cambodian Consultant and Associate, a local labor agency.
CCA took deposits from more than 1,200 laborers, but failed to deliver the jobs as promised. So far, the company has returned deposits to only 100 people, said Chhov Leng, 41, one of the laborers’ representatives.
He said he met briefly with a ministry official Wednesday and was told the ministry would send four people to meet with the director of CCA, who has closed his Phnom Penh office.
Many of the laborers raised the funds for the deposit by selling their homes or rice fields. Others borrowed the money and now can’t pay back the lenders.
The stress from losing the deposits has ruined lives and broken up marriages, said Sek Sarun, a protesting worker.
“Some victims are now separated from their spouses because of this case, and some other victims had their houses or rice fields confiscated by money lenders,” he said.