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Hundreds of garment workers still on strike

Hundreds of garment workers still on strike

More than 200 garment workers in Takeo province’s Bati district have demonstrated outside their factory for the 20th consecutive day, calling for the reinstatement of three fired union representatives, a union leader said.

Kim Vanna said the strike began on September 10, the same day he and two others were fired from the Blossom Century Factory. Four days before their termination, they had been selected as leaders of the newly created Khmer Youth Union Confederation, a labour union.

“The factory owner does not allow the workers to create the union in the factory, that’s why they fired three of us,” he said.

More than 200 workers out of an estimated staff of 1,000 had opted to join the new union, he said.

Kim Vanna noted that the strike had nothing to do with this month’s large-scale garment-sector work stoppage, which was sparked by the July announcement of a new minimum wage.

A representative of the Blossom Century Factory, who identified himself only as Chhun, said the factory had filed for a court injunction that, if issued, would require striking employees to return to work within 48 hours.

“We don’t have any resolution yet for those workers and this case is dependent on the court’s decision,” he said.

Sem Tha, one of the workers who has been striking since September 10, said the number of striking workers had swelled in recent days in response to the factory’s refusal to discuss the possibility of the fired unionists being reinstated.
“The factory told the workers to return to work on September 23, or they would be fired,” she said, and added that workers had been “unafraid” to ignore the deadline.

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