The Kandal Provincial Court has put two factories up for auction with proceeds from the sales set to compensate workers who have gone unpaid.
Dignity Knitter Limited and Eco Best Factory in Takhmao town’s Sitbou commune in Kandal province will be auctioned on December 29, according to a court notification on December 14. Paper and verbal bids will be accepted in a hearing at the courthouse with bidding starting at $1,777,000.
“During this time, members of the public may view detailed documents of movable property contained in the facilities and valuation reports. They may also make on-site inspections from the date of this public announcement up to three days before the date of auction,” the notification said.
Court spokesman So Sarin explained that the court had decided to confiscate and sell the properties after ruling in favour of an unspecified number of plaintiffs. Court records indicate that complaints were filed by garment workers who alleged that they had not been paid wages for several months. The court determined they were unpaid creditors of the businesses.
“After receiving money from this auction, [the court] will pay it back to creditors,” he said.
Sarin said he did not have details of this case at hand, but many such cases are being brought before the courts.
“Workers cannot file court complaints resulting in the confiscation of property if their case is without merit. Regarding this case, the property is being put up for sale in accordance with legal procedures. The provincial court and relevant authorities joined these workers to resolve this problem,” he said.
Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina said the managers of these two factories may have fled without paying wages and other benefits to workers.
He noted that the provincial court decided its course of action after the employers failed to come forward to take responsibility for the matter and offer compensation to workers.
Sina did not know precisely how many workers were affected or for how long they had gone unpaid.
He said addressing the issue by auctioning confiscated property would help alleviate the workers’ grievances, but it cannot guarantee that they will receive sufficient payments to fully compensate them for lost benefits.
“[The court] has decided to put the properties up for auction, but it is conceivable that other factory owners might follow this example. [In this case, employers] evaded their responsibilities and ran away, leaving the court to decide the case.
“This is not a good precedent. If cases like this continue to occur, workers stand to lose the most,” he said.