Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Factory workers allege sexual harassment

Factory workers allege sexual harassment

Factory workers allege sexual harassment

120821_02b

Police clash briefly with factory workers employed by Ocean Garment Co Ltd during a protest in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Thousands of angry garment factory workers, en route yesterday to the Ministry of Social Affairs in a protest over alleged sexual harassment, were stopped in their tracks by about 100 armed police and ordered back to the workplace.

More than 2,500 workers from Phnom Penh’s Ocean Garment factory, which manufactures clothing and footwear for retail giant Gap, made it barely 100 metres from the Dangkor-district site before police, bearing batons, intervened.

On strike for more than a week, the workers have demanded the company’s director dismiss a manager who allegedly sexually harassed four female workers.

None of the women have thus far made criminal complaints.

Ocean Garment worker representative Keo Kim Heang said a slew of staff had faced unfair treatment from the manager, and would continue to strike until he was sacked.

“He threatened the female workers . . . or did not allow them to work overtime when they refused to go out or sleep with him,” she said.

Although the company yesterday agreed to negotiate with workers, Kim Heang said the workers had appealed to the ministry as a last resort after hearing nothing since the strike began on August 11.

Ocean Garment administrative manager Choun Vicheka said he could not comment.

“I do not want to say anything, because tomorrow [Tuesday] we are meeting with the workers and social affairs ministry officials to find out the solution,” he said.

Houn Vanna, general secretary of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said he thought the company should mediate with workers.

Dave Welsh, country director of the American Centre for International Labor Solidarity, said the allegations were serious and it was crucial to resolve the issue immediately.

“There are other ways to legally go about this. These fall under criminal charges, and we would give the unions and workers full support to go down that avenue," Welsh said. “If they do not deal with this, more pressure will follow,”

The workers, union delegates and government officials are due to sit down with company representatives today.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]
Claire Knox at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s