Hundreds of factory workers in Kampong Speu province went on strike yesterday after their employers fired two unionists for allegedly failing to do their jobs.
Soy Chanthou, president of the Federation Union of Free and Independent, said Monopai, a company that produces textile goods, fired unionists Oeun Chanthy and Nov Chantha on November 8.
He argued the duo was fired because of their union activities in the factory, not for failing to do their jobs.
“Accusing them of not adequately doing their jobs is not acceptable,” he said. “They helped workers when they had problems with their job.”
Mr Chanthou said the sackings prompted more than 800 workers to rally behind the unionists yesterday.
Mr Chanthou noted the strike was peaceful and the workers demanded the company reinstate the unionists.
He said the company held a meeting with the union after the workers went on strike, but the two sides remain at an impasse.
Mr Chanthy said the company accused him of speaking too loudly and failing to do his job during work hours.
“The company wants to deprive workers of their freedom after I helped them protest before,” he said, noting workers support unionists at the factory.
“The workers love Nov Chantha and I because we have always helped them with their work problems,” Mr Chanthy said. “Whenever there were labour issues, I was brave enough to seek answers from the company.”
Sam Sochea, chief of administration for the company, said Monopai was correct in firing the duo and the company has not violated workers’ rights.
Mr Sochea said the duo was fired because they had bad attitudes, played games and did nothing during working hours.
“They did not have good attitudes – they always argued with company leaders,” he said. “During working hours, they did not work – they just sat around and played games.”
Mr Sochea said 95 percent of Monopai’s workers went on strike and they are occupying space in front of the factory.
He said the company will still open its doors to the workers, but it will not reinstate Mr Chanthy and Mr Chantha.
“The company will not force them to work – if they work, they will have money, if they don’t, they will not get money from the factory,” Mr Sochea said.