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Garment workers stake out Korean-owned factory during holidays, plan protests

Garment workers stage a protest over unpaid wages in Kandal province last November.
Garment workers stage a protest over unpaid wages in Kandal province last November. Pha Lina

Garment workers stake out Korean-owned factory during holidays, plan protests

Workers at troubled garment factory Gawon Apparel and sister company First Gawon Apparel are planning large protests this week after the end of Khmer New Year holidays.

Khem Makara, a union representative at Gawon factory in Kandal province's Takhmao town, said about 11 workers stayed behind during Khmer New Year to ensure the Korean factory owners did not take advantage of the holiday to move out equipment.

"We were worried that the employer would transport all the valuable things and assets out from the factory," said Makara, of C.CAWDU. "We have been on standby in the factory since April 11 until now, and let many other workers go to celebrate Khmer New Year, except more than 10 representatives stayed at the factory from day to night time."

"If they bring out the equipment, we'll get nothing to compensate our [unpaid] salary," he said.

The embattled factory has seen protests since last spring over unpaid salaries and fears that the company would shut down, leaving workers without compensation. In January, hundreds of workers were fired from Gawon after allegedly not following a court order to go back to work while the dispute was being resolved.

Gawon factory owner Mercedes Cha and Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached Wednesday.

Makara said workers are still owed salaries since December of roughly $180 per month.

Workers will submit petitions to the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Labour, Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, local authorities, the National Social Security Fund and the South Korean Embassy in Cambodia tomorrow or Friday.

"We plan to submit the petition and gather at 10 difference places related to the First Gawon factory, as we already asked permission, so we'll have the sound system and microphone to let those organisations know our grievances," Makara said.

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