The Ministry of Labour has urged the arrest of the “mastermind” behind an apparently spurious rumour spreading across shop floors that garment factories would close their doors for the entire month of December.
The mysterious rumour has sown confusion across the Kingdom’s garment and footwear industry, which is country’s largest export earner and employs over 700,000 people.
A statement from the ministry released on Saturday traced the rumour’s origin to “evil” people who began spreading it on Friday.
“This information caused workers and employers in the sector to be worried,” the statement read.
“The Ministry of Labour rejects this information and wants to clarify to workers, employers, and the public that aside from official public paid holidays, December does not have any other holidays.”
The statement urged all workers to keep working as usual, and also called on the public to “report any information to authorities and police that can be used to identify and arrest the mastermind who created this rumour in order to take action through the law”.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said yesterday that some of his members and workers had asked him whether the rumour was true before the water festival, which lasted from Tuesday to Thursday last week.
“I told them that it is not true. It is a rumour that someone created in order to spread chaos in the garment sector. But we don’t know what the purpose was of those people who started that rumour,” he said. “It is a worrying issue if we cannot stop the rumour spreading.”
Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union – Cambodia’s largest independent union – also said he had heard whisperings of the rumour, which he quickly suspected was spurious.
He said he had no idea of its origins or purpose, and that closing factories for an entire month was unheard of in a country with such a critical garment sector.
“I’m also wondering about that,” he said. “How can they close [the factories]?”