Workers at the First Gawon Apparel factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district are planning a procession to many different institutions as well as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house next week to request intervention in a dispute over wages.
Phann Savon, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union at First Gawon Apparel factory and also a worker representative who has been gathering with other workers in front of the factory, said yesterday they have been protesting day and night over three months of unpaid wages.
“Everyone travelled to their hometown over Khmer New Year to enjoy with their families, but most of us protested and slept at the factory because we do not have any money and we fear that the factory owner will take the equipment out,” he said.
Mr Savon said he was preparing a petition and collecting thumbprints from workers before he would set the day of the procession.
“So far, we have nearly 100 thumbprints from the workers and I expect we will get about 200,” he said.
“We will start our procession next week and file our petitions at about 10 different institutions, including the Ministry of Labour, the Korean embassy, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house and other relevant ministries.”
Mr Savon said they would first head to the Ministry of Labour. He added they would not go on foot, but would use motorbikes and tuk-tuks because he thinks authorities will stop them.
“I do not know if our procession will be successful or not, but we have to do it because we can’t wait any more without getting a resolution,” Mr Savon said.
He added that more than 200 workers have not received their wages from January until March, and they have lost hope of receiving wages for April.
“Between 20 and 30 workers have to sleep in front of the factory every day, during the day and at night, to prevent the factory owner from taking equipment out,” Mr Savon said. First Gawon Apparel officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Dy Roth Khemrun, deputy governor of Meanchey district, said yesterday he was trying to find a resolution for the workers, who would not be allowed to hold their procession.
“We are organising procedures to solve for them. We will negotiate with the factory owner. We have helped the workers get their wages many times already, so we will do it again for them,” he said.
Although the workers will not be allowed to go en masse to the various institutions as planned, they can assign representatives to bring the petitions, added Mr Roth Khemrun.