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Factory workers to march to ministry after salaries unpaid

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Aggrieved workers of First Gawon Apparel (Cambodia) protested in front of the factory gate last week.

Factory workers to march to ministry after salaries unpaid

Aggrieved workers of First Gawon Apparel (Cambodia) plan to march to the offices of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT) again on Tuesday, seeking a solution from the ministry in a salary dispute that has dragged on for more than five months.

Heng Sour, spokesman for the MLVT, told The Post last week that the ministry had already filed a complaint on the workers’ behalf at the Phnom Penn Municipal Court.

Sour also explained the two different approaches the ministry and the workers can take in such a dispute.

“There are two different mechanisms we can use to resolve this dispute. One, if the factory is shut down or the owner has fled, we would have legal remedies, like shutting the factory, freezing the company’s assets, and selling off factory equipment, using the proceeds to pay the workers’ back salaries,” Sour said.

“The second mechanism is used if the employer is still in the country. We would take legal action by taking the owner to court.”

Sour explained that since the owner is still residing in the country, the ministry is using the second mechanism, and has already filed a complaint.

Khem Makara, the union president at First Gawon Apparel and a member of the Cambodian Coalition Alliance Democratic Unions of Workers (C.CAWDU), on Monday was sceptical that the MLVT had already taken such action.

“We hadn’t heard [the ministry] had filed complaints on the workers’ behalf. If we know the case number, it would be easy for us to check, because we are already at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court dealing with two separate issues,” Makara said. “We’ll check with ministry today so see if there is any progress. If not we’ll march to the ministry again tomorrow.’’

Ath Thorn, president of the C.CAWDU, on Monday blamed the MLVT for not having fixed this situation sooner, stressing that the living situation of the workers is getting desperate.

“As a union, we want the government to resolve this problem faster. And I believe if the ministry really takes action against the employer of First Gawon, it would be the most effective way to finally resolve this. So we have to ensure that we keep pushing the ministry to take real action, while the ministry should make efforts to keep our workers apprised of the situation,” Thorn said.