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Hundreds of workers strike over conditions in capital

Garment factory workers gather on a street in front of Mastex Incam (Cambodia) yesterday during a protest in Phnom Penh.
Garment factory workers gather on a street in front of Mastex Incam (Cambodia) yesterday during a protest in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Hundreds of workers strike over conditions in capital

About 500 garment workers at the Mastex Incam factory in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district went on strike yesterday demanding better working conditions and benefits.

The workers claim their employer has violated their rights under Cambodia’s labour law, and that their requests for intervention made to the Ministry of Labour have gone unheard.

Mao Savoeun, who has worked for almost a year at the factory, said the employees were forced to do overtime and had been banned from taking holidays to meet company production quotas.

“When your parents die, we are only given half a day off,” she said, adding that workers would continue to strike until a solution was reached.

Mastex representatives could not be reached yesterday.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said the ministry had requested that the employer open negotiations with workers at the factory, but the company rejected their request.

The government cannot force the issue, he added, so workers were advised to file a complaint to the Arbitration Council.

“The ministry’s role is to reconcile the dispute, lobbying both sides to negotiate or review operations,” he said.

Yi Sarun, a representative with the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, urged Mastex “to find a solution to end the strike”.

Workers’ requests include holiday eligibility, no forced overtime without pay, a 75-cent lunch allowance and free maternal health checks.

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