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Factory workers blocked

Workers stand outside the Pou Yuen shoe factory in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district, where they claim hired guards (centre, black jacket) prevented them from entering the premises. Photo supplied
Workers stand outside the Pou Yuen shoe factory in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district, where they claim hired guards (centre, black jacket) prevented them from entering the premises. Photo supplied

Factory workers blocked

Around 2,000 workers were prevented from entering the Pou Yuen shoe factory in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Saturday, with workers alleging that the factory is looking to shut down its operations.

The factory saw protests in October when workers were unhappy with the company’s decision to grant them only short-term, three-month contracts – at the time speculating that the factory wanted to cut their employment short.

On Saturday, around 30 hired guards wearing black jackets allegedly prevented the workers from entering the factory premises. Pou Yuen worker Khath Sreytouch said yesterday the workers had received a leaked letter saying that the factory had closed down.

“The factory did not announce or put any note at the factory. We only got the letter from coworkers,” she said. “On Saturday when we go to work, the factory hired bodyguards to block the factory’s gate and wouldn’t allow us to go inside the workplace.”

A copy of the leaked letter shows that the factory intended to shut down operations on Saturday and pay workers some severance on account of dropping orders in 2017. Factory administrators could not be reached yesterday to confirm contents of the letter.

Yang Sophorn, president of Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said the factory wanted to shut shop before December 28, when the Arbitration Council was expected to rule on the legality of the three-month contracts handed out by the factory.

“Arbitration Council will award their ruling on December 28 and the factory is trying to provide the payment before the ruling,” she said.

Workers are expected to return on Tuesday to continue to protest outside the factory.