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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Workers block road in Takhmao over salaries

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Gawon Apparel factory workers block National Road 21 to demand unpaid wages yesterday from the company in Kandal province. Pha Lina

Workers block road in Takhmao over salaries

Around 300 garment factory workers blocked National Road 21 in Takhmao yesterday for the fourth time in the past week to demand their April salaries from the South Korean-owned Gawon Apparel Factory.

“We will not go back to work unless they give us our full salary,” protesters Savang Savatey said.

The workers began blocking the road on the evening of May 12, after a small portion of the them received just a fraction – $20 – of their outstanding wages. The workers suspended the roadblock during the national holidays on Monday and Tuesday, Savatey added.

According to William Conklin, the country director at the Solidarity Centre, the protests were dispersed peacefully at 1pm.Savatey’s colleague, Moeurn Samean, 34, said the factory owed her $130, without which she could not pay rent.

Nou Sovannak, Gawon Apparel administration assistant, admitted the factory had been facing financial problems for the last year. “We don’t have a lot of orders,” he said. “Buyers tend to switch to other countries with lower salaries.”

He said the factory paid almost 480 workers $20 on May 12, while 24 workers received $30 on May 13, and 67 others received $50. The rest, he admitted, had not received any salary at all. According to Sovannak, the basic salary was $153, which is the minimum wage in Cambodia.

He said the factory had tried to borrow money from other companies to pay the workers and that they would pay all remaining salaries on May 20.

Conklin said the workers’ roadblocks could result in sanctions against the workers.

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