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Workers protest closed factory

Workers from troubled garment factory First Gawon Apparel listen to Meanchey district authorities Monday afternoon after delivering a petition seeking unpaid wages.
Workers from troubled garment factory First Gawon Apparel listen to Meanchey district authorities Monday afternoon after delivering a petition seeking unpaid wages. Pha Lina

Workers protest closed factory

About100 workers from the seemingly abandoned First Gawon Apparel garment factory marched to Phnom Penh’s Meanchey District Hall on Monday afternoon seeking resolution to a dispute that has dragged on for nearly a year.

Workers say they have not been paid by the Korean-owned company for four months and have been staking out the factory in fears managers will try to remove valuable equipment and machinery that could be sold to pay back wages and severance.

Worker Em Savy said some colleagues had been evicted from their homes because they were unable to pay rent and were now living in front of the factory.

“I don’t have money to pay my kids’ school, and because we’ve been on standby at the factory for more than four months, my husband is suspicious that I’m having an affair with someone now,” Savy said.

During a meeting with the workers, District Governor Pich Keo Mony promised representatives from the Ministry of Labour would pay a visit to the factory on Tuesday to compel owners to pay the workers.

However, Keo Mony also told workers to assign a few representatives to deliver their petitions to relevant organisations instead of marching en masse.

“I heard workers want to march,” Keo Mony said. “Why do you want to do that? I don’t reject the workers’ plan, but we can’t let you march as it will affect the public order and impact traffic.”

Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour and First Gawon factory owner Mercedes Cha could not be reached Wednesday.

Workers plan to deliver petitions to the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Labour, Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, the National Social Security Fund and the South Korean Embassy in Cambodia.

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