Rong Chhun (L), president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, is confronted by Phnom Penh Police Commissioner Touch Naroth (R) during a protest by Tai Yang Enterprise workers this month. Photograph: Meng Kimlong / Phnom Penh Post
Garment employees who have refused to return to work after striking for three weeks no longer have jobs at Tai Yang Enterprise, which supplies Levi’s and Gap, management said yesterday.
Tired of strikes the company claims are costing it US$10,000 per day, administrative manager Ou Meng Hour said yesterday that more than 100 employees have effectively resigned by choosing not to return to work.
“The workers who stay outside are not the workers for Tai Yang Enterprise and Camwell anymore,” he said, referring to two of three factories the company owns in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district.
“We released a letter on July 10 announcing that if they do not return to work, it means they have abandoned their work automatically,” he said, referencing a court order from Kandal provincial court.
The workers went on strike briefly in May after discovering their factory had changed its name, which workers claim was to avoid paying seniority bonuses. They resumed striking on June 25, adding demands for more bonuses.
Meng Hour said 85 per cent of the strikers had agreed to return to work, but he expected about 100 to continue to strike today.
“It is up to them if they do not return to work – they’ll just have to get their salary from [Cambodian Confederation of Unions president] Rong Chhun and [Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions president] Yang Sophorn,” he said.
Meng Hour said Free Trade Union president Chea Mony’s recent split from CCU had contributed to the strike’s length because the factory had already negotiated with Mony.
“We will keep striking,” Chhun said, adding that only 20 per cent of strikers were back at work.
Meanwhile, the Phnom Penh Municipal authority has defended its police officer’s actions after union employee Rong Panha, Chhun’s nephew, was left bloodied following a city protest involving Tai Yang workers last Wednesday.
“Rong Panha … has used violence and kicked the authority,” it said in a statement released on Friday. “The authority [had] no choice besides taking appropriate action based on the law.”