The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia on Tuesday called the recent strike conducted by Bowker Garment Factory workers in Kandal province illegal.
Last week, about 2,000 workers in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district conducted a strike to demand better working conditions and the return of a sacked unionist. However, their numbers have since dwindled and most have returned to work.
In a statement on Tuesday, GMAC said it has seen an increase in illegal strikes in the garment, footwear and travel goods sector.
“These illegal actions led by some ill-intentioned unions negatively impact the investment climate in this sector at a time when we are currently facing the threat of the withdrawal of EBA by the European Union,” it said.
GMAC was referring to a review of the Kingdom’s EBA due to perceived setbacks on human rights and democracy that could see the preferential trade status suspended.
Regarding workers of Bowker Garment Factory, GMAC said the strike has been ongoing since July 10 over accusations of failing to comply with legal procedures. It said both parties negotiated and that unresolved points were sent to the Arbitration Council on July 11.
It added that some workers are continuing to strike despite a return to work order by the council.
“GMAC condemns such illegal behaviour related to any non-procedural strike, which could lead to the loss of confidence from buyers and loss of benefits for both parties,” it said.
“GMAC would like to request and appeal to all unions and workers to respect the law and related regulations, including the labour dispute resolution procedures,” it added.
According to the striking Bowker Garment Factory workers, 18 points are listed on a petition drafted by the workers.
The workers mainly want the return of sacked unionist Hean Sroeun and the firing of administration chief Yong Kong.
The workers also want the company to not discriminate against members of the Cambodian Development Union, of which Mr Sroeun is deputy.
A striking worker who declined to be named yesterday said even though the company has accepted most of the points, the reinstatement of Mr Sroeun and the sacking of Mr Kong hinder some workers from returning to work.
The worker added that there are still between 800 to 900 striking workers left, but noted that some of them will return to work pending a solution.
“Some workers agreed to return to work in order to wait for a solution,” the worker said.
Mr Kong yesterday said that the two points that were not solved will be sent to the Arbitration Council to handle.
He noted that on Tuesday, 800 workers were absent from work and that yesterday, 300 were absent from work.
“Some workers are striking in front of the company and some are staying home,” Mr Kong said. “Their strike affects the company’s production.”