Cambodian garment workers at a factory in Malaysia that supplies major international brands were on strike for a third day in a row yesterday, refusing an agreement on accommodation and demanding higher salaries.
Representatives of the workers at the Honsin Apparel Sdn Bhd factory in Jahor state’s Batu Pahat town have said there are more than 200 of them at the factory, a number the company disputes, who are paid just 21 ringgit (US$6.77) per day.
Worker Yon Naron, said that 16 Cambodians were locked in the company’s office for three hours after they rejected a raise to 26 ringgit per day, because the company would be deducted 130 ringgit per month in accommodation fees – though there appears to be confusion about what was actually being offered.
“We completely disagree. It is not acceptable. They didn’t tell us the reason [why they are deducting 130 ringgit],” she said.
A representative of Honsin Apparel Sdn Bhd said all but 58 of 133 Cambodian workers had refused to sign an agreement that had nothing to with a wage increase.
“We pay for the 130 [ringgit] to the worker, then the worker has to pay this back to the so-called service providers,” he said, explaining that his was a third-party hostel management company that had been recently contracted to manage their accommodation.
He said negotiations over the workers salaries were ongoing and denied anyone had been detained by the company.
Aegile Fernandez, from the Malaysia-based rights group Tenaganita, said that they were intervening now to settle the dispute at the factory, which in total employed about 800 workers.
In May, the Malaysian government announced it would for the first time introduce a minimum wage of 900 ringgit per month on the peninsula and 800 ringgit for the states of Sarawak and Saba, though the legislation has not yet been implemented.
The parent company of Honsin Apparel Sdn Bhd, Prolexus Berhad, supplies brands such as Nike, Oshkosh, Armour, ASICS, Gear for Sports, Champion, Fila, KRU, Disney, Umbro, Saks Inc and Parisian, according to its website.