Hundreds of garment workers formerly employed at the Dai Young factory in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district protested yesterday after their bankrupt employer tried to force them to thumbprint a document recognising the bankruptcy in a bid to evade paying owed severance.
Yesterday’s protest, which blocked National Road 5, followed a protest on Saturday in which the disgruntled workers were demanding their unpaid March wages.
Yin Chenda, 42, said that she and her colleagues are protesting again because a settlement has been reached to pay workers their unpaid wages, but the bankrupt owner asked people to thumbprint a document recognising the bankruptcy and that the company could not pay owed severance.
“We do not recognise this,” she said. “If we recognise, we will get only our last wage of $160. How about our severance pay and other benefits? They did not pay us.”
Man Thavay, 40, another worker, said that the employer announced the bankruptcy, but workers have seen trucks transporting machinery to another location, where they believe the owner will set up new operations.
“We worked there for ten years,” she said. “We cannot accept $160 as the final solution like this. It is unfair to us. We worked hard there for a long time and we must be properly compensated.”
She added that the workers will continue protesting until their demands are met.
Prak Chanthoeun, secretary of the Committee for the Settlement of Strikes and Demonstrations with the Labour Ministry, said that the ministry has set up a meeting with all sides for Friday.
“We will meet with representatives of the workers and the company,” he said. “We will inform both sides of their obligations, including not blocking a major roadway for protests.”
Heng Soukea, a former union leader at the factory, said that nearly all the factory’s former workers disagree with accepting only the last owed wages to settle the dispute.
“We asked them about that, and most disagree,” he said. “They said it is not acceptable and argued that they do not have money for rent and daily expenses.”