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Group of unpaid workers blocked on way to PM’s house

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Police block nearly 100 garment workers of Violet Apparel (Cambodia) Co Ltd from marching to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence to seek intervention over unpaid benefits after the factory closed down. KT/Pann Rachana

Nearly 100 garment workers were yesterday blocked by authorities from marching to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house to seek intervention for unpaid benefits following their factory’s closure. This is the latest among a string of demonstrations staged by workers appealing for the premier’s assistance amid widespread lay-offs and suspensions.

According to the workers’ petition, the Violet Apparel (Cambodia) Co Ltd, which is located in the capital’s Sen Sok district, ceased operations on July 1 without paying its workers their due.

Four points of demands were listed in the petition, among which were: compensation in lieu of prior notice, seniority indemnity, payment in place of unused annual leave and five days’ worth of unpaid wages during the Khmer New Year holidays in April.

One of the workers, Oung Chanthoeun, said: “The company suspended operations for two months in May and June. On the first of July, it announced that it was shutting down operations due to a lack of orders. It did not pay for our benefits or wages.”

“We do not wish to cause a public disturbance. We simply want the authorities to mediate and offer a solution to our problem which is why we marched to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house,” said Chanthoeun, adding that they have twice protested to the company prior to the march but to no avail.

The workers were met by deputy municipal governor Mean Chanyada, who promised to coordinate with relevant parties, including the Ministry of Labour and factory representatives, to reach for a resolution.

Representative for the workers from Violet Apparel Co Ltd talks to reporters. KT/Pann Rachana

After being apprised of the issue, the Cambodian Confederation of Unions released a statement yesterday, saying a company’s failure to pay its employees’ benefits constitutes a violation of the Labour Law.

“CCU asks the Minister of Labour to intervene in the predicament of the workers of Violet Apparel,” it said.

Violet Apparel (Cambodia) Co Ltd had a total of 1,284 workers.

On Tuesday, Mr Hun Sen urged workers who recently lost their jobs due to COVID-19 to return to their hometowns and partake in farming while waiting for the crisis to abate.

Last week, the Labour Ministry announced its plan to survey the changes to the living conditions of workers from the textile and footwear sector during the pandemic. A random sample of workers will be selected across the Kingdom and interviewed from July 17 to 31.

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