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Gawon workers block road again over unpaid wages

Workers from the Gawon Apparel garment factory resumed their strike over unpaid wages yesterday, blocking a road in Kandal province’s Takhmao town.
Workers from the Gawon Apparel garment factory resumed their strike over unpaid wages yesterday, blocking a road in Kandal province’s Takhmao town. Pha Lina

Gawon workers block road again over unpaid wages

Garment workers resumed their strike against the Gawon Apparel Cambodia Co today, demanding bosses sell factory equipment to pay their salaries, though a factory official claimed the company will suspend workers to settle payroll shortages.

About 200 workers had blocked the street near one of the entrances to the factory in Kandal province’s Takhmao town when reporters arrived around 10am, but San Sokhorn, a representative for the demonstrators, said only 700 workers participated in this rally, a lower turnout than previous strikes.

Worker Bun Sivan said the protesters were petitioning the factory for the $50 to $60 owed to each employee, plus better treatment and fewer overtime hours.

“We discussed with the owners, and if the factory cannot operate anymore, the boss needs to sell the factory and pay the workers who have not gotten enough salary for months,” she said.

After a series of strikes against Gawon bosses, the protesters demand the company liquidate assets because solutions proposed in negotiations never materialised, Sokhorn said.

“This Korean boss is rude and shows contempt for Cambodians; he looks down on us,” she said.

Sreymom, a Gawon payroll staffer who would only provide her given name, said the company paid November salaries on time, but they would not pay for the week of salaries demanded because workers were on strike at the time.

“If they try to make a strike, the company won’t provide salary for them because they didn’t work, so how could the company pay for their work?” Sreymom asked.

The payroll officer said the company was seeking approval from the Ministry of Labour to suspend about 200 to 300 employees because the company “did not have enough work for them”, saying the move would prevent future salary shortages.

Thol Neang, Kandal provincial Labour Department director, said he stepped in to facilitate negotiations yesterday and in past strikes, but he plans to send the conflict to the Arbitration Council.

"The workers want that boss sell this factory, but the factories bosses responded that it will resume normal operations and buy more than 20 new sewing machines," he said. “In fact, both sides have made mistakes.”

Additional reporting by Danielle Keeton-Olsen

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