Roughly 2,000 workers from the Malaysian-owned Global Apparels Limited garment factory in Phnom Penh went on strike yesterday after the factory announced it would be reducing staff numbers by 500 over the coming months, union representatives said yesterday.
Ham Lout, a deputy president from the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said that 100 workers had recently been cut after the company decided not to renew its six-month fixed-term contracts, while the factory had announced that it would be letting go of 500 more workers before April, he said.
“This morning, all the workers at Global Apparels came out to protest in front of the factory to demand that the 100 workers who had finished contracts go back to work, and they [protesters] would also like that the company not finish the contracts of other workers,” he said.
Nhem Sophana, a protester from the factory, said that workers had been left nervous about the announcement. Under the Labour Law, employers can put workers on fixed-duration contracts of up to six months each but for no longer than two years, at which point the duration is considered “undetermined”.
William Conklin, Cambodia country director at workers advocacy NGO Solidarity Center, said yesterday that while he was unaware of the details of this specific case, generally workers let go with more than two years’ experience at a company have a good case for severance, while those who haven’t are “more vulnerable”.
“This is one reason we don’t like short-term contracts. You go from contract to contract without any security,” he said.
Global Apparels Limited could not be reached for comment.