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March blocked from PM’s house

March blocked from PM’s house

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CCU president Rong Chhun speaks to June Textile garment workers during a protest yesterday at Freedom Park.

More than 300 protestors, demanding their former employer respect an arbitration council ruling to pay them severance pay, were blocked by police from marching to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh residence yesterday.

The former June Textile workers, who assembled at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, had planned to deliver a petition to the premier calling on him to force the company to respect the arbitration council’s ruling.

The ruling, which came after 1,000 workers were laid off when one of the company’s factories burned down in March, found that June Textile should pay workers for a “pre-notice” period ahead of their dismissal of up to three months’ salary, as well as other benefits.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said yesterday June Textile had failed to respect that ruling, requiring the urgent intervention of Hun Sen.

“The workers face problems such as paying rent, water and electricity bills,” he said, adding that only the premier had the authority to resolve the dispute.  

June Textile has previously said it does not have enough money to pay the workers compensation in line with the ruling, but Rong Chhun claimed yesterday the company was insured for US$16 million.

Neither Ken Loo, president of the Garment Manufactures’ Association in Cambodia, nor representatives of June Textile could be reached for comment yesterday.

Though the protestors were blocked from demonstrating outside the prime minister’s house, Pal Chandara, an official from Hun Sen’s cabinet, said yesterday he had met with 10 of the group’s representatives and would forward their petition to the premier.

“This issue cannot be resolved at once as we would want. I would like [all workers] to rest first, then once it has reached me I will resolve it for you,” he said, adding there was no exact schedule to deal with the dispute.

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