More than 100 workers from the First Gawon Apparel factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district travelled to the South Korean embassy yesterday seeking help in their long-running pay dispute with their Korean employer.
Sat Samnang, secretary of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said two trucks full of workers went to the embassy in Chamkar Mon district to submit a petition after their case had not been resolved.
“The employer has Korean nationality, so that is why the workers decided to take a petition to the Korean embassy to seek help,” she said. “The dispute has lasted a long time and there has been no solution to the cases.”
She added that the workers travelled to the Ministry of Labour as well as the embassy. But when the workers arrived near the embassy, they were not allowed to continue their journey.
Only two representatives were allowed to enter the embassy to submit the petition, she said.
“When our representatives handed over the petition, the embassy official told us to wait because they needed to translate it from Khmer to English language,” she said.
Factory worker Phan Savon said the employees had not been paid and the workers suggested going to the Korean embassy for help.
“We hope that the embassy can help us negotiate with the people from their country to get payment for the workers,” he said.
Early this month, the workers of First Gawon Apparel factory burned truck tyres in protest after wages went unpaid since December.
The workers said they took the action because the authorities had been silent about finding a resolution to their problem.
More than 350 garment workers from the factory have refused to continue their work because they say the owner has not paid their wages since December.
The owner of First Gawon Apparel also has a factory in Kandal province, where workers have reportedly been mistreated, sacked without cause and have not been paid.
In January, the factory sacked nearly 600 staff for defying a court order to go back to work after months of protests.
Him Pheakdey, a representative of First Gawon Apparel, said that the workers had the right to go anywhere to protest.
However, the company could not accept the demand for wages for which they had staged the protests.
Ms Pheakdey said after the protest earlier this month that the workers were not telling the truth to the media.
Ms Pheakdey said the company had in fact paid the workers their December wages and they were really demanding pay from a period in which they protested.
“They demand 100 percent of their wages for days they protested. The Labour Law does not mention about paying them 100 percent during a protest. The company can’t do it,” she said at the time.