Authorities in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district yesterday prevented nearly 100 workers from the First Gawon Apparel factory from burning tyres in a continued protest over wages that have gone unpaid since December.
More than 350 garment workers from the factory have refused to continue their work because the owner has not paid their December wages.
Sat Samnang, a worker at First Gawon Apparel, said that yesterday morning, a group of workers started to protest again to demand their unpaid wages for December and prepared to burn a stack of tyres.
She said the workers were going to burn truck tyres because authorities had been silent about finding a resolution to their problem.
“We cannot endure it any more. We have protested many times over the past five months without seeing a solution. We planned to burn the tyres but authorities came to ban it,” she said.
She added the workers agreed to stop burning the tyres after local authorities promised to have them meet with their employer again.
“In fact, we did not want to burn the tyres. But we had no choice,” she said. “Our employer has promised to pay us our wages one day and then another. We have been waiting until now.”
Vuth Pousavon, a police officer from Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Krom commune, said that local police intervened and stopped them from burning the tyres.
“They were ready to burn the tyres but we came on time to stop them. We did not allow them to do it because it affects public order,” he said.
Him Pheakdey, a representative of First Gawon Apparel, said 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.
Ms Phekdey added that workers had locked the company’s office which affected operations.
The owner of First Gawon Apparel also has a factory in Kandal province, where workers have reportedly been mistreated, fired without cause and not paid.
The factory in January fired nearly 600 staff for breaching a court warrant ordering them to go back to work after months of protest.