Around 300 garment workers from Canteran Apparel gathered on Veng Sreng Street in Chaom Chao commune’s Trapeang Thleung village of Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district on April 19 to protest recent actions by the owner of the business.
The protests came after the company had transported machines from the factory without any advance notice, which made the workers suspect that the company owner might shutter the factory without offering them any severance compensation.
Nhim Chanthoeun, an employee of Canteran Apparel, said on April 19 that the trouble started because the workers feared that the company owner would run off without paying their final salaries or offering severance payments.
She added that in early April the company actually made a contract with the workers to refrain from transporting the machinery from the factory, but the company violated the contract by doing it anyways and by April 19 they had even carted away a large power generator.
“The factory is nearly closed, so they are moving the machines. Apparently, the company wants to run away without any additional money for us. It is okay if they have to close, but we should have received advance notice and the company must pay seniority payments to some of us because we have worked there for many years,” she said.
Another worker, Rim Ny, said that they felt confident that the company would not move the machines soon after signing the contract with them on April 6, so they went to visit their hometowns during Khmer New Year, because they had signed the contract on April 6.
However, when they returned to work they found out that the company had taken all of the sewing machines out, which led to their protest.
She added that while blocking the road the deputy governor of Por Sen Chey district came and spoke with the crowd of workers and they agreed to disperse, but no compromise with the company has been reached yet.
Deputy district governor Pang Lyda said on April 19 that the contract between the company and the workers was made without the knowledge or participation of any government authorities, so he suggested a meeting at the district hall to discuss solutions on April 20.
He added that he would coordinate the meeting between the company and its workers so that both sides will abide by their contracts as long as they cease blocking the road and avoid causing heavy traffic congestion.
“I told them that the company must implement the agreed-upon contract, but I must delay the meeting until April 20 because the person who gave the thumbprint on the contract for the company wasn’t available,” he said.
The Post was unable to contact any of the company’s representatives for comment on April 19. However, Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour said the ministry was also aware of the situation and working on the case to ensure the workers would be paid.