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Campaign calls for garment workers from shuttered factory to be repaid

Garment workers from the Chung Fai knitwear factory protest outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2016.
Garment workers from the Chung Fai knitwear factory protest outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court in 2016. Pha Lina

Campaign calls for garment workers from shuttered factory to be repaid

A group of international organisations yesterday launched a campaign urging three well-known brands to compensate Cambodian workers after their factory closed more than a year ago.

Clean Clothes Campaign, a group of more than 100 organisations internationally, said in a statement that British brands Marks and Spencer (M&S) and Bonmarché and Canadian brand Nygård should compensate workers at the Chung Fai Knitwear Factory.

The factory closed unexpectedly on July 1, 2016, leaving 208 workers unemployed. They neither received compensation following the closure nor their final salaries for the last month.

Bonmarché initially denied having a relationship with the company, but “later admitted that their clothing could have been made at the factory”, according to the statement.

Both M&S and Nygård deny sourcing from the factory, but according to the campaign, factory workers showed them labels from the clothing with the brand names.

Sok Phany, a legal officer at Solidarity Centre, said many workers have had to take out loans that they “might never be able to pay back”, she said.

Lawyer Hong Sambath said the Labour Ministry filed a complaint against four worker representatives in February for “inciting” workers to block a road.

He said they had been summonsed for questioning by a prosecutor on Monday.

One of the summonsed, Khorn Chiven, criticised the ministry for not confronting the company.

“I’m disappointed that the Ministry of Labour, who did not help us, instead filed a complaint against us,” she said.

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