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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Strikes in Cambodian factories may hit orders

Strikes in Cambodian factories may hit orders

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Gladpeer Garment Factory workers protest in Phnom Penh to demand a higher minimum wage. During the first 20 days of this year, employees of at least seven garment factories were on strike. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Officials of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) are concerned that recent strikes could delay delivery to customers, and factories are looking for solutions to meet buyers’ demands.

About 10,000 workers in seven or eight garment factories have gone on strike recently demanding higher wages and improved working conditions, according to union leaders.

GMAC president Van Sou Ieng said strikes at those factories were not a good sign for the kingdom’s manufacturing sector.

“If they continue, we will make a loss this year,” Ieng said, adding that this would affect workers’ salaries.

Senior GMAC official Cheat Khemara said strikes would lead to factories not being able to deliver on time, potentially penalising them under contracts that set dates for producing and shipping goods.

“Goods will not be produced on time, and we don’t know whether buyers will understand that,” Khemara said.

“If buyers don’t accept the delay, factory owners will face serious losses, as they are responsible if the goods are not sent on time.”

Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Unions president Ath Thon confirmed that the strikes had affected the garment sector.

But he said striking was a last resort by workers to force their employers to follow the labour law and increase minimum wages.

Thon said workers in at least seven garment factories had been on strike during the first 20 days of this year, demanding higher wages and better working conditions.

Compared with the corresponding period last year, the trend of strikes had increased, he said.

“We know about the effect, but this is not the workers’ fault.”

Whether the strikes lasted a long or a short time would   ultimately depend on employers’ willingness to resolve the issues, Thon said.

“Ninety-nine per cent of these strikes are provoked by employers who do not comply with the labour law and other regulations.”

Last week, Moeun Tola, chief of the Labour Program Unit at the Community Legal Education Centre in Cambodia, wrote on Facebook that workers from Gladpeer Garment Factory and H&M’s supply factory would remain on strike.

The employees planned to organise a religious ceremony, appealing to spirits to change the management’s opinion and solve the issues by discussing them, he wrote.

Tola also wrote on Wednesday that thousands of International Fashion (Royal) employees were marching in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district.

Workers at the Bluesam garment factory, in Takeo province, were continuing their strike, he wrote.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rann Reuy at reuy.rann@phnompenhpost.com

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