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Bad year for workers: FTU

Sixty-nine garment workers were fired last year from factories in Cambodia, while nearly 10 union leaders and members were assaulted, a union statement said yesterday.

Chea Mony, head of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, wrote in the statement that conditions among Cambodia’s garment workers had severely deteriorated last year.

The statement also included a list of the names of workers he said had been fired or beaten in contravention of labour laws for protesting poor working conditions in one of the Kingdom’s key economic sectors.

The statement included the names of seven union leaders or members who “were seriously beaten, threatened, offended and abused against their rights and freedom”.

Chea Mony said yesterday that union leaders and workers in garment factories were dismissed “because they staged protests demanding that factory owners respect their rights and appropriately comply with the Kingdom’s labour law”.

Thousands of Garment workers joined a week of coordinated strikes in September last year to protest against a July decision by the government and industry representatives that set the minimun wage for garment workers at US$61 per month.

Protest leaders had demanded a minimum monthly salary of $93.

Twelve garment workers were injured the following week in clashes with police after the suspension of more than 200 union representatives in response to September’s week-long strikes.

Khiev Savuth, deputy director of the Department of Labour Disputes, said conflict between owners and workers was common.

“It’s inevitable. Conflicts of interest between owners and workers always break out. However, what’s more important is the mechanism of settlement between both parties, understanding each other in order to end the conflict,” he said.

Chea Mony’s statement also called on all concerned ministries to eliminate discrimination and improve the livelihoods of Cambodia’s garment workers.

Cheat Khemra, a coordinator for the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said most labour disputes occurred because of disagreements among unionists within the factory over workers’ benefits.

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