Garment factory workers protest unpaid wages

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Some workers accepted a $50 payment because they had to pay their rent. Supplied

About 300 garment workers in Kandal province’s Ta Khmao Town blocked the street in front of their factory for two hours on Friday after their employer failed to pay them their wages.
 
Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union vice president Prack Chanthorn said workers of First Gawon Apparel took to the streets after their employer did not pay them their April wages, which were due on Friday.
 
“The factory owner told us he would pay our wages on Friday but when the day came, he said he only had $20 for each worker,” Mr Chanthorn said.
 
“Staff were angry and they went outside to block the road.”
 
Some workers who needed to pay their rent accepted an increased offer of $50 from the company, but most refused the compensation, which is only a third of the garment worker minimum wage.
 
“We are on holiday until Tuesday and we don’t know whether we will come back to work or not come Wednesday,” Mr Chanthorn said.
 
“I will discuss it with the workers.”  
 
A provincial labour department officer, who spoke to Khmer Times, said officials had already spoken to the factory owners and sorted out a payment plan for the employees.
 
“The workers agreed to take $50 first and then they will get the rest on May 20,” the officer said.
 
“The factory lacked the funds to pay the staff. The employer requested a loan from the bank, but the bank was closed, so they will get their full salary after the long weekend.”  
 
Labour Minister Ith Samheng had warned protestors they could face criminal charges if they obstruct traffic.
 
According to a 2012 report by the Economist, South Korean-owned First Gawon Apparel factory produces as many as 20,000 items of clothing a day.
 
Garment workers often go unpaid in Cambodia when bankrupt employers flee, leaving many in the lurch, with no recourse but to take to the streets.

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