Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protests for unionist persist

Protests for unionist persist

Factory workers protest outside International Fashion Royal Co yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Factory workers protest outside International Fashion Royal Co yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo supplied

Protests for unionist persist

Hundreds of garment workers on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard yesterday continued to protest the dismissal of a union leader at a factory that supplies US retail giant K-Mart, claiming he was fired for pushing the owners to respect a recent labour arbitration decision.

Workers Friendship Union Federation leader Bou Thet, who works in the machine repair section at the International Fashion Royal Co factory, said he was fired on Tuesday, with a representative of the 80 percent US-owned factory citing his “bad attitude”.

Thet said all 1,100 workers from the factory had protested on Wednesday but some returned to work yesterday. He said the factory representative also claimed that he had “cheated the company” out of money, but he believed the real reason was his unionism.

“The factory offered me $600 compensation but I don’t want it,” Thet said, adding he was proud of his activism and wanted to return to his work and labor organising. “The workers also want me to go back to work, as I negotiated many benefits for workers last year.”

On May 27, he said, the Arbitration Council ruled in favour of the workers’ requests for their overtime meal allowances to be paid weekly instead of monthly, for maternity leave to be paid to pregnant workers before they take leave and for a daycare centre at the factory.

“The factory rejected the decision, and they do not intend to implement it,” Thet said.

Arbitration Council official Am Nan said that the factory was not legally required to accept the decision.

“If the decision is binding and one party does not implement it, the other party can ask the court to enforce the decision,” Nan said, noting the May 27 decision, like most made by the council, was not binding.

According to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), International Fashion Royal Co is 80 percent US-owned and 20 percent South Korean-owned. It supplies K-Mart and produce Tresics, Color Thread and Kids & Co clothes, according to Thet.

A factory representative listed by GMAC who did not give her name said only that the manager was “in the process of solving” the dispute. She referred questions to him, but would not provide contact details.

The factory is also part of the International Labour Organization’s Better Factories Cambodia programme but its communications officer, Ly Sokheng, said in an email that its assessment of the factory could not yet be made public. “All our factory members that have had at least 2 assessments . . . are subject to public reporting,” he said.

Sieng Chrourn, a spokesperson for a representative of Thet’s union, said that the union and the factory’s workers planned to force the factory to re-instate their leader to his job. “We will continue the strike until the problem is solved,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement