About 200 garment workers at a factory located in the capital’s Steung Meanchey Commune1, Meanchey district, have been protesting since Monday after the owner fled without paying their August wages.
The workers who were employed by a sub-contractor who supplies garments to a foreign buyer claimed that they did not receive their wages on Sept 10, which is their usual payday.
Meanchey district deputy commune police chief Soth Sena said the workers started protesting since Monday after realising that the owner did not turn up at the factory to pay their wages.
Officials from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training met with about 257 workers hired by the factory to help solve the problem.
“We just came to make sure the protest is peaceful. I saw ministry officials interviewing the workers to compile a report, but the case is not solved yet,” said Sena.
Ros Sok, 35, who has been working at the factory for the last four years, said: “We usually get our wages on the 10th of every month at about 3pm.
“But when we didn’t see our factory owner, we felt something was wrong. We didn’t see our Chinese team leaders as they too disappeared suddenly, so we decided to protest."
Sok said she expects to get her $400 wages this month as she has been doing a lot of overtime. Sometimes she left the factory at 8pm or 10pm. And sometimes she worked till morning.
“I hope the ministry could give us a quick solution because we need the money for our daily expenses."
“We are staying inside the factory so that the owner cannot take away the machinery and clothes or other properties in the compound,” she said.
Sena said since it is a labour issue, the police cannot intervene but only monitor what is happening.
“Workers are protecting the things inside the factory. As the authorities, we cannot guarantee if these items are lost unless the ministry informs us to take action. We are just observing the situation. It’s a workers issue,” he said.
Phnom Penh Labour Department director Choun Vuthy said the workers were demanding their unpaid August wages.
“We are now investigating this case. The owner is a sub-contractor and has a contract to supply to a large foreign company and we are now trying to identify this foreign company."
“We are very serious in this case but at this point, we cannot say when the wage issue can be resolved,” he said.