About 300 workers burned tyres in front of a Malaysian-owned garment factory on the outskirts of the capital yesterday, as their protest over the alleged firing of five union representatives last week escalated, union members said.
“It is discriminatory for the company to dismiss union leaders because it does not want a union to be set up. Our protest will continue until the company offers the unionists their jobs back,” said Saron Vibol, vice-director of a branch of the Rights and Profit Workers’ Federation of Trade Unions at the factory.
Saron Vibol was among the five members of the union whose contracts were not renewed last week at Moon Apparel (Cambodia) Co.
A representative of the company, who asked not to be named, insisted the five were let go because their three-month contracts had expired.
He said the decision not to renew their contracts could not be considered discrimination because the factory had not received official notice that a new union was being created at the facility in Po Senchey district’s Trapeang Krorsang commune.
Saron Vibol said workers had been protesting in front of the factory since Friday to demand the rehiring of the five union representatives.
Workers were also demanding the factory provide onsite medical care, more drinking water and end alleged discrimination against pregnant workers, he said.
The protest erupted after the company failed to resolve issues brought to the attention of management by workers, he said.
Meanwhile, the issue of alleged discrimination against unions by factory owners was discussed yesterday at a forum on Better Factories Cambodia, the International Labour Organisation’s program for monitoring garment factories in Cambodia.
Jill Tucker, its program manager, told the forum “we probably under report cases of union discrimination”.
BFC was setting up a group that would be a “focal point” for discussing industrial relations and unions would be able to report discrimination to this group, she said.