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Workers laid off at Kampong Speu teak farm

Garment workers protest in front of the Great Honour Textile Factory in Kandal province yesterday afternoon, demanding a resolution to unpaid wages.
Garment workers protest in front of the Great Honour Textile Factory in Kandal province yesterday afternoon, demanding a resolution to unpaid wages. Pha Lina

Workers laid off at Kampong Speu teak farm

Close to 300 workers at Kampong Speu province’s Grandis Timber Limited, a teak nursery, have sought the aid of an agricultural union after they were asked to stop coming to work last week after management said they did not have enough work for them.

Say Ry, a 51-year-old worker at the nursery, said that of the 500 workers at the site, only 200 were asked to continue working, pointing out that most of those asked to stay were more recent additions to the company’s workforce.

“I have been working there for nearly 10 years. I am an old worker,” Ry said. “Now all of a sudden we do not have a job to support our families.”

Heng Chhouen, head of the Cambodian Agriculture Worker Federation, said that the workers had asked his union to help, and that he would send a letter to the company asking for negotiations. However, company manager Van Than said the workers hadn’t been fired and that the firm was only requesting them to stop working for a while, adding that most of them were daily-wage workers.

The nursery, located in the province’s Oral district, is on the company’s 9,800-hectare economic land concession, and its teak is expected to reach maturity in another 20 years.

In a separate incident, 500 workers at the shuttered Great Honour garment factory blocked National Road 21A for a second day, demanding that authorities expedite the sale of the factory’s equipment and land to pay their back wages.

“We have waited for a result for more than three months and we protested many times. We are close to Pchum Ben but we have no wages,” said factory worker Som Sopheap.

Hem Heoun, a member of a provincial committee formed to oversee the sale, asked workers to stop their blockade, saying that provincial officials expected the sale to happen on Friday.

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