A landlady who owns the property on which a defunct garment factory once operated agreed Tuesday to pay compensation to the factory’s laborers after company officials disappeared.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she paid each of the 185 former Lean Fong garment factory workers $20 because she feared the workers might riot and damage her property.
“I have to pay the workers because the factory owner did not show up to solve the problem. If I knew where she was hiding, I would pull her in and make her stand in front of the law, and her workers,” the woman said.
The workers had been demonstrating since Oct 3, when the factory owner did not show up to distribute the compensation she had agreed to pay, said Phong Montry of the Free Trade Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
The landlady said she felt she had no choice. “If I did not pay, the workers would destroy my property. The factory owner has nothing left here,” she said.
The factory owner did not return numerous phone calls.
Although many workers said they were frustrated by the owner’s refusal to compensate them, they said the landlady’s fears of violence were overblown.
“I just want the money. I do not need violence,” laborer Khoeun Len, 22, said.
Still, settling for $20 after years of service was difficult to accept, some workers said.
“They never told the truth,” said Yi Sophal, who worked at the factory for three years. “They always lied to me.”