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Thousands of garment workers on strike in Kandal province

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Labour Ministry official Chey Sovann meets with protesters outside their factory. BBN TV

Thousands of Bowker Garment Factory workers in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district are on strike to demand better working conditions and the return of their union leader.

The strike began on Monday after the representative was fired for defending a member. A petition showed 18-points related to better working conditions.

These points include the rehiring of sacked unionist Hean Sroeun, who is also deputy of the Cambodian Development Union, and the sacking of administration chief Yong Kong.

The workers are also demanding that the company stop discriminating against union members, repair damaged parts of their factory and help send injured workers to hospital.

Chin Chambar, a worker, said Ms Sroeun was sacked after attempting to demand better working conditions.

“Yong Kong always made problems with workers, he doesn’t help the workers,” Ms Chambar said. “Our worker representative, who always helped with improving working conditions, was fired from her job.”

Ly Phalla, another worker, said the company changed its management team a few months ago. Ms Phalla said the new team caused many problems, including by sacking workers without a reason.

“The company fired workers without reason and discriminated against the union,” Ms Phalla said. “It restricted the rights of workers.”

Ms Sroeun yesterday said she was sacked after she defended a union member who was accused of stealing clothes from the factory and fired.

She noted that the company was not able to prove that the union member stole, but sacked the employee regardless.

“I asked the company to show me the security footage, but they did not do it,” she said. “When I came to her defence, I was fired as well.”

According to a provincial labour department report, more than 2,000 workers are on strike. It noted that there are about 4,000 workers at the factory.

It said out of 18 points, 16 have been agreed upon. These include the hiring of more male workers, the repair of the building to avoid water leakage and the removal of private VIP security guards from factory floors.

“The other points were agreed upon, but the points regarding Heang Sroeun and Yong Kong are still being negotiated,” it said.

Mr Kong could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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