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Ministry of Labor Urge to Garment Workers Bring Attackers to Court

Chea Takihiro / Khmer Times Share:

The Ministry of Labor yesterday urged Starlight Apparel Manufacturing Co. Ltd. workers to file a complaint against gangsters allegedly hired by their employer to prevent protesters from traveling to the ministry to request government intervention, saying Starlight must respect labor rights and freedom.
Chan Veasna, Secretary of the Cambodia Labor Solidarity Union Federation and a garment worker representative who met with the Ministry of Labor’s Secretary of State Hem Huen, said that the ministry urged workers to file criminal cases against the gangsters who allegedly attacked and blocked them from coming to the ministry. 
Hundreds of workers attempted to travel from their factory in Ksach Kandal district in Kandal province to Phnom Penh on Monday morning to ask the ministry for intervention and assistance in securing working rights, but were stopped on the way by so-called gangsters. At least three garment workers were injured during the resulting confrontation. The gangsters were allegedly hired by Starlight, and also destroyed worker property at the time. 
Num Meng, a garment worker at the Starlight Apparel Manufacturing Co. Ltd. factory, said the factory hired the gangsters to block he and his fellow protesters.
“They use knives, sticks and belts to fight workers while they were trying to come to the Labor Ministry,” he said.
He added that he was very disappointed authorities did not intervene in their defense and allowed the gangsters to continue their attack. 
Authorities defended their actions, calling the attacks a dispute of loving affairs between the workers and gangs.
Vihear Suor commune police did not respond for comment yesterday. 
A Ksach Kandal district police officer told Khmer Times the police have been waiting for a complaint from the garment workers.
Mr. Meng said the Singapore-owned factory did not respect the labor rights of his fellows workers. Among other offenses, the factory is discriminatory toward union members, he said, firing them at will.
“They ordered one worker to work three machines. They force the workers to work overtime and fire garment workers without notification,” he said.
Socheath Meng, General Administration of Starlight Apparel Manufacturing Co., Ltd did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.
Mr. Veasna said the Ministry has called on factory directors to address the requests of their workers. They hope the garment workers will reach resolutions today. The union warns that if the garment worker requests are not addressed, they will protest until they see results.
“For me, if I protest in front of the factory and they kill me, I am happy. Because it is my will. I do it for my garment worker’s labor rights,” he said.
Moeun Tola, executive director of the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights,, said the factory’s actions showed they do not respect labor rights. He urged to factory to negotiate with workers to address their concerns. He also urged authorities to find the gangsters and issue punishments.
“I think, if police stay here, they should stop the gangster’s activity and should arrest perpetrators. But generally they arrest the victims and release the perpetrators,” he said.

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