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Strike for fired union heads

ABOUT 500 garment workers from the Zhen Yun Factory in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district held a protest yesterday to demand the reinstatement of four union leaders fired over the weekend, as well as better working conditions.

Yang Sophorn, deputy director of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said the company fired the four workers on Friday after learning the factory’s employees had elected them as union leaders.

“We informed the company owners on Friday who won the vote to become union leaders, but the company doesn’t allow union leaders, so they were fired,” said Yang Sophorn.

A general manager for the Zhen Yun Factory, who would only identify herself as Horng, said she didn’t know if the fired employees would be allowed back to work.

“My boss has not decided yet whether we will accept those four union leaders back to work or not,” she said.

On Monday, representatives from the Free Trade Union met with the factory owners to demand the reinstatement of the workers, in addition to 11 basic working conditions, such as increased wages for overtime work and health services for sick employees.

Yang Sophorn said the factory owners were willing to accept 10 of the working conditions, but refused to re-hire the ousted employees or pay higher rates for overtime hours.

“The employees won’t continue working if the company owners refuse to accept the four union representatives and don’t add more money for overtime work,” she said.

One of the fired employees Seng Bora said “the workers need union leaders in the factory to protect them when they have problems with the owners”.

Horng said she didn’t know if the factory owners would set another date of negotiations with the union representatives.



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