THE government should require garment factory owners to set up reserve accounts equivalent to three months' salary for all employees, opposition leader Sam Rainsy wrote in a letter sent to National Assembly President Heng Samrin on February 24.
Such a move would ensure that factory workers would receive a financial cushion should factories shut down, the president of the Sam Rainsy Party argued in the letter, which Heng Samrin forwarded Friday to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
"I hope the government will require all factories nationwide to deposit a reserve to pay the salaries of garment workers if factories go bankrupt or close down," the letter reads. "This will help the factories avoid demonstrations and riots, which could lead to anarchy."
Sam Rainsy said the global economic crisis had led to an increase in factory closings.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, told the Post last week that 30 garment and footwear factories employing 27,000 workers closed in 2008. He said Sunday that 10 had closed thus far in 2009 and that only one had offered severance payments.
He expressed his support for Sam Rainsy's proposal, saying it was necessary for factories to protect workers' salaries.
But Kaing Monika, external affairs manager for the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, said the proposal would put an undue financial burden on the industry. On top of pressures stemming from the economic crisis, this burden could lead to further factory closings, he warned.