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Garment workers protest unpaid April wages

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
Workers gather outside the factory to demand outstanding wages. KT/Siv Channa

More than 600 workers of the SEPIA garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Porsenchey district on Monday staged a protest in front of the factory premises to demand their unpaid wages.

Sok Kha, one of the workers, said they had not received their wages from April 1 to 17. He added the protest was organised after the company, which promised to pay their wages on Saturday, failed to deliver.

“Since the start of 2020, our wages have always been delayed and for the April wages, the company failed to pay us,” he said, adding the unpaid wages have only made it more difficult for them to pay their rent. “We are also demanding for the partial pay [$30] which we is due to us after the company suspended its operations.”

Another worker Hay Chansophea said they have yet to receive 17 days’ worth of wages, after the company decided to suspend its operations after April 17 due to a lack of clothing orders.

“All 600 workers did not get their wages for 17 days of work in April. We call on the company to pay its workers regularly and on time,” she said.

Far Saly, president of the National Trade Unions Coalitions, said workers have been increasingly concerned with the massive layoffs and furloughs amid the pandemic.

“The union is concerned with how the government can help the affected workers as more lose their job in the wake of the coronavirus,” said Mr Saly.

The Garment Manufacturing Association in Cambodia, in a statement released last week, said 180 factories have temporarily halted operations, with 60 more presumed to follow. The widespread operational suspensions have affected close to 200,000 workers.

In response, the government has provided a social fund of $70 for each affected worker, with $40 coming from the government and $30 paid out by their respective factory.

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