About 600 workers from the PY Garment Factory in Sihanoukville will march to the provincial hall today to agitate for the reinstatement of a sacked union leader, following a week-long strike at the factory.
Mao Piseth, the fired unionist, said he hoped the march would encourage the provincial governor to intervene in the dispute with the company, which has agreed to some demands to improve working conditions at the factory, but refused to allow him back to work.
“We sent a letter of permission for holding a march to the provincial hall and informed the provincial police and military police stations on Tuesday that we are going to make the parade on Thursday,” he said, adding that the march would also pass by other factories where he hoped to gather more support for his cause.
Mao Piseth said he had not yet received an answer from officials, but that the march would go ahead regardless of whether or not workers were granted permission to march. He said he believed he was fired by the company late last month because he had registered as a union leader.
But a representative of the company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said yesterday that the union leader was fired because of a history of unacceptable conduct.
“Mao Piseth cursed and wanted to fight the factory owner, so we cannot accept him back to work,” he said.
The representative also said the union leader had continuously broken regulations by eating and playing cards on the factory floor, and that the firm was considering firing other union leaders accused of inciting the strikes.
“We will file a complaint soon to the court to take measures to stop the strike, and we are discussing [the issue] with our lawyer,” he said.
Yov Kemera, director of the provincial labour department, said yesterday that officials had declined to give permission for the march, and that the planned action would be illegal.
“It is illegal if they make a parade to other factories and incite other workers to join with them, and the provincial officials released the letter [this] morning disallowing those workers from holding the march,” he said.
He said the case had been sent to the Ministry of Labour’s Arbitration Council, but that a hearing date had not yet been set.