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Garment workers protest over unpaid wages

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Protesting staff sit outside the factory’s front gate. Supplied

Nearly 1,000 workers from three factories in Phnom Penh’s Por Senchey district yesterday protested after learning that their employer has fled without paying their January wages.

The three factories, Yu Fa Garment Industry, Yu Da Garment Industry and S.R.E Garment Company, are owned by a single Chinese businessman who has disappeared.

Pich Malen, a Yu Da Garment Industry worker, said staff started to protest on Wednesday night and continued to do so yesterday after noticing factory equipment was being sold.

Ms Malen said the workers completed their duties for the month of January and were then told they would have some time off in February, for which they would get 50 percent of their wages.

But their January pay was not provided, nor any for February, when they learned the owner had skipped town and equipment was being moved out of the factories.

“They allowed us to have a rest for a few days while still getting 50 percent of wages, but in fact, the employer escaped,” she said. “The workers then came out to protest.”

Tong Tek, a chief of administration for S.R.E Garment Company, said he did not know the whereabouts of the owner and could also not provide his name.

“I am not sure where my employer is now,” he said. “He did not appear at work and he did not pay wages to the workers.”

Son Prak, a deputy chief with the Worker Union Federation, said that in a meeting yesterday afternoon the workers suggested that labour officials should help staff sell the company’s machines to cover their wages.

“The employer escaped and no one paid wages to the workers, so the staff suggested to sell the machines, but no agreement has been reached and another meeting is set for Monday,” he said.

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