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Factory shut amid mounting protests

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Workers from a factory belonging to Long Victory International in Russey Keo district’s Tuol Sangke commune protest again over their unpaid furlough. Pha Lina

Factory shut amid mounting protests

A Phnom Penh garment factory abruptly closed its gates on Tuesday amid mounting protests over the “temporary suspension” of some of its 1,400 workers.

Workers from a factory belonging to Long Victory International in Russey Keo district’s Tuol Sangke commune started protesting again over their unpaid furlough, which the company had claimed was due to a lack of orders from clients.

On January 14, some 420 workers had returned to work, ending two days of protests triggered by rumours that the factory was set to close.

They began protesting after seeing trucks removing machinery, clothes and tables from the factory, with some seeing their six-month contract terminated before it lapsed.

The owner signed an agreement last week saying the factory had no plan to close and informed the workers that they were just moving their other machinery and clothes to another branch.

Despite the assurances, several workers were suspended and movers were reported to have continued relocating the equipment from the factory up to Monday – a move some regarded as a breach of their agreement.

Suspended worker Chan Sinoeun told The Post on Tuesday that the latest protests had prevented the other workers from going to work, resulting in the factory closure.

She said they were afraid that the factory would not hand out worker’s benefits and compensation, hence the protests.

The Post could not reach any representative from Long Victory International on Monday.

Russey Keo governor, Chea Pisey, said local the authority is seeking intervention from the Labour Ministry after the company failed to honour its agreement with the workers. “Only the [labour] ministry can provide solutions,” he said.

‘Evasion of responsibilities’

Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina said “the evasion of responsibilities committed by the company goes against the Kingdom’s law”.

He suggested that the local authorities may have been careless for making it easy for the company to ship out its equipment.

“If the company closed the factory at their own will, they must settle all [outstanding] payments to the workers. Was the suspension in accordance with the law?"

“Not receiving any order cannot be used as a pretext to evade responsibilities,” Sina said.

Asked for comments on solutions, Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour instead said: “The government guarantees that all workers will not lose their benefits when a factory goes bankrupt.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen has said several times that the government would allocate a budget to compensate the workers of factories that go bankrupt or closed because their owners ran away.”

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