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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Factory strikes continue

Factory strikes continue

United Faith garment factory managers agreed to accept workers' demands after a two-day

strike resulted in the beatings of two Cambodian Labor Organization (CLO) observers.

Workers demanded higher wages, reduced hours, respect for their rights and an end

to forced overtime.

CLO director Seng Phally was beaten by security guards while photographing the striking

workers at the factory Feb 26. "The guards punched me on the nose, eyes and

arms. Then they aimed a gun at me, but I was protected by the workers," he said.

The guards were told that the two were not factory staff, but were hired from outside,

workers said.

Phally and his CLO colleague, Siv Dara Vuth, were taken in a car accompanied by about

200 workers marching toward the National Assembly.

Kem Sokha, chairman of the National Assembly's Commission on Human Rights and Reception

of Complaints, said he has filed a complaint with the police and the courts.

National Assembly members Sokha and Son Chhay blamed the government for delaying

the labor law, causing friction between workers and management.

The law was recently passed by the National Assembly but has yet to be signed by

the King, putting it into effect. The Royal Palace has previously said it has not

received a copy of the law from the government.

King Norodom Sihanouk has now left Cambodia for medical treatment but Chea Sim, the

president of the National Assembly, can sign the law on the King's behalf.

MP Kann Man also suggested that the delay in the law's signing was " a tactic

of powerful people" who want to block it until factory managers had appointed

their own workers delegations.

He said many garment factories started to appoint their own workers representatives,

adding that it is illegal because the job needs to be done by workers on their own

free will.

Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Manufacturers Association, said such strikes happened

because of workers' misguided loyalty to Khmer Nation Party president Sam Rainsy.

"They don't talk to their managers. They just go to Sam Rainsy and go on strike.

Then they think it is good and will receive good results," he said.

Sam Rainsy said there would be more violent strikes if the government did not move

to give workers proper protections and rights.

Meanwhile, a strike occurred at another factory, the Jin Chan clothing factory, Mar

3.

A statement by the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia president

said 300 workers at the factory were protesting "continuos violations of the

labor law".

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