More than 300 construction workers gathered in protest against a subcontractor at the Booyoung Town development on Monday, saying the subcontractor was late in paying their salaries after stopping site work.
The workers gathered at the Korean property developer’s office in Phnom Penh’s Toek Thla commune to protest against Honsin, another Korean-owned company. Honsin employed the workers to build a school within Booyoung Town, a commercial and residential complex along Russian Federation Blvd. that has been under construction since 2013.
Worker Phean Leng said he and his colleagues were concerned about what would happen to the company as Honsin had stopped construction work since August 3. He added that the workers were protesting because the company had missed a two-week payment period running from late July to early this month, though they delayed their decision to protest until Monday.
“They kept us waiting to hear about the work and they kept us waiting to get our pay for days,” he said. “All we want is that they pay us so then we can leave or find something else to do.”
Sok Rada, a general manager for Booyoung Town, said the delayed payments were not Booyoung’s fault, but the company had nevertheless agreed to pay the Honsin workers’ salaries.
The decision came after mediation with district and commune officials, and was met with applause when announced to the protesting workers, Rada said. Workers left the company office around 3:30 p.m.
Toek Thla commune police chief Sok Sophal confirmed that protesters had left after Booyoung Town and Sen Sok district’s deputy governor met with workers for a mediation.
According to the construction worker Leng, Booyoung told the workers it would pay 70% of the delayed salaries immediately. If workers did not receive the full amount owed by September 6 as promised by Booyoung, the workers would consider taking action again, Leng said.
Seng Chhean, a construction worker from Kampong Thom province, emphasized that it was critical for workers to get their salary on time in order to make sure they have enough money to buy food and pay off obligations.
“It is very difficult if they don’t open the salary for me because I have debt … I have to send money home for my family,” he said. “We do not have anything to eat if we work and we don’t get paid.”