In May 2015, a broker convinced him and other villagers to work in Thailand. They took loans to pay the 600 US dollar recruitment fee. “We were so happy about this new opportunity”. Until today, the 31 villagers are still waiting to be sent abroad.
Mr. Ang Oy, Social Ambassador
The story of Ang Oy is an endless series of scams and unscrupulous acts. Ang has a long working experience in Thailand. He migrated several times with the help of local brokers or private recruitment agencies.
The first time he crossed the border was with his wife in 2010. “A broker from a neighbouring village told us that we could earn a good salary in Thailand.” Together with his wife he worked in a glove factory for almost 2 years, he had a proper employment contract provided by a recruitment agency. However, when heavy floods struck their hometown, the family decided to go back to their village.
In 2012, encouraged by a friend, Ang tried again to cross the border with another agency. “My first experience was positive and I thought I wasn’t taking any risks going to Thailand again.” Unfortunately, when he arrived at the Poipet border checkpoint, the police stopped him. At first, he did not understand the reason for his arrest. He explained that he had paid an agency to get the proper documents. At that point Ang did not realise that the agency, instead of facilitating a working visa, provided him with a tourist visa, which is much cheaper but not valid for longer stay and work in Thailand. Finally, Ang managed to get home only after paying a sum of money.
Once he crossed the border, Ang discovered that the job he was promised did not exist and the recruitment agency confiscated his passport. Thanks to the support of a local NGO, he managed to find a job with another company. He thought this would be his chance to have a regular income and to come back home with some savings. Instead, it turned out that the costs of living for accommodation and food were so high that his small salary was not enough to pay back the recruitment fees to the agency.
Throughout 2013 Ang tried constantly to find employment, but instead, he was cheated many times by unscrupulous brokers and private recruitment agencies and finally headed back to Cambodia. “I was not aware of my rights and I kept silent for long time”, he told us. “I did not file a complaint with the local authorities, police or an NGO. I did not know anything about the process”.
For the following two years, Ang tried to make a living in Cambodia, but the financial situation of his family deteriorated. In May 2015, a broker convinced him and other villagers to work in Thailand in what seemed to be a well-paid job. The only thing they had to do was to pay a 600 US dollar-fee to a Phnom Penh-based recruitment agency. The villagers took microloans to gather the required funds. “We were so happy about this new opportunity and very excited to start working in this factory and be able to bring along our families.” Until today, the 31 villagers are still waiting to be sent abroad.
They tried to contact the agency many times but nobody was willing to talk to them. Thanks to the local non-governmental organisation, LSCW (Legal Support for Children and Women), Ang and his fellow villagers filed a complaint to the authorities and are hopeful that soon the recruitment agency that scammed them will be punished and that they will receive their money back, and most importantly their dignity. Ang Oy and the other villagers are now taking part in Self-Help Group meetings organised in Kampong Cham province within the EU-funded MIGRA ACTION project to raise awareness about migrant workers’ rights.
Ang joined the project as a Social Ambassador. In June 2017, he prevented villagers from his hometown from registering with an Australian Fruit Picking company, which promised the villagers work in a shoe factory abroad. Ang found out that the recruitment agency was not accredited by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and therefore the whole offer was a clear setup aimed at exploiting the villagers.