About a thousand workers from the Southland garment factory yesterday protested outside the Ministry of Labour to demand intervention from the authorities to force the company to reinstate 10 unionists suspended from work after a strike began earlier this week.
The unionists were suspended on Wednesday after more than 1,500 workers from the Phnom Penh factory walked out after a disagreement about arranging time off to vote in Sunday’s commune election.
Speaking at the ministry yesterday, worker Hun Sreyov said the 10 Collective Union Movement of Workers (CUMW) members who were suspended were not behind the decision to strike.
“I came to the protest today because I want the 10 union reps to resume work as these unionists were not involved in the worker protest,” Sreyov said.
Sreyov, 32, said workers had disagreed with a deal struck by the company and another union, the Cambodia Union Federation, to deduct three annual leave days in exchange for allowing workers to take off a day before and after Sunday’s vote in order to travel to their home communes.
The workers’ proposal to work on a public holiday later this month, and to receive a half day’s pay for Monday, was rejected by the company.
The factory, representatives of which could not be reached yesterday, on Wednesday sought and received an order from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for employees to return to work within 48 hours, with the exception of the 10 suspended union representatives.
Toun Saren, CUMW secretary general, urged the Labour Minister to intervene and resolve the problem.