When commune police in Kampong Speu ordered Complete Honour Footwear factory administrators to open their gates and allow workers to leave last week, management there simply refused, police told the Post yesterday.
“The company did not listen to my order to open the door,” said Kheng Chan Thol, police chief of Kong Pisei district’s Chong Roc commune. “They worried about property destruction some union workers and workers may cause.”
In interviews with the Post on Monday, four employees reported that the factory locked its gates, preventing workers last week from participating in a week-long boycott of overtime work in protest at the government’s refusal to raise the sector’s minimum monthly wage to $160 and its continued detainment of 21 protesters.
Chan Thol said police simply responded to a call from the factory, whose management then refused to unlock the gates.
“I went there to protect the workers, not to prohibit them from leaving, as some unions and workers have alleged,” Chan Thol said.
Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun yesterday questioned why managers would feel it necessary to keep workers inside the factory for fear of property damage when police were there to prevent violence or destruction.
The allegations from workers and police that Complete Honour detained workers illustrates a disturbing trend in law enforcement in the Kingdom, where factory administrators appear to wield enough power to ignore orders from commune police, said Dave Welsh, country director for labour rights group Solidarity Center.
“It’s very disturbing,” Welsh said. “It speaks to the real rule of law in this country.”
But Roeurn Vannak, an administrative official at Complete Honour, yesterday said that Tuesday’s events have been misrepresented.
“Each of our factory’s buildings uses air-conditioning in the workplace; we close the doors, but do not lock them.”