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Strike unfazed by court

Workers from Cambo Kotop garment factory burn tyres
Workers from Cambo Kotop garment factory burn tyres during a protest in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district yesterday. photo SUPPLIED

Strike unfazed by court

As striking workers at a garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district continued to burn tires yesterday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court filed an injunction ordering employees to return to work.

Cambo Kotop workers walked off the job last week after management fired five representatives of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW). Amid the constant presence of strikers who have been caught on video toppling at least one of the factory’s gates, the court released the order on Tuesday, requiring employees to return today.

Some strikers yesterday scoffed at the injunction, saying protests will continue until the factory meets their demands; the most crucial of which is the reinstatement of CUMW representatives.

“I do not respect the court injunction. I will continue to protest until the factory accepts the five union members back to work,” Theang Srey Neang, a 32-year-old Cambo Kotop employee, said yesterday.

“We destroyed the factory fence, because we were so angry at our employer.”

Staff at Cambo Kotop’s office said several times yesterday that their corporate social responsibility manager, who identified himself in an interview last week as Kwak, was “in a meeting” and unavailable for comment.

Kwak last week said that the five fired CUMW workers had disrupted operations in the factory over the course of two weeks, and had been warned.

Unionists have called for increased overtime pay and lunch allowances.

A statement from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) released on Tuesday said police in Por Sen Chey’s Kantok commune – where Cambo Kotop is located – have allowed protesters to commit crimes without consequence.

“The activity at Cambo Kotop . . . has caused severe harm to the factory without any action from the authorities; investor confidence is falling,” the statement says. “Intentional property destruction carries a sentence of six months to two years imprisonment.”

Kantok commune police chief An Teng yesterday said the department has received no complaints from the factory.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN

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