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Workers walk out over bonuses, sacked leader

Garment workers in Phnom Penh yesterday demanded their annual bonus and the reinstatement of their union leader. Photo supplied
Garment workers in Phnom Penh yesterday demanded their annual bonus and the reinstatement of their union leader. Photo supplied

Workers walk out over bonuses, sacked leader

A scuffle with security guards yesterday ended the fourth straight day of protests at the First Gawon Apparel factory in the capital’s Meanchey district, where about 300 workers have walked out over the firing of their union leader, who the factory says was inciting workers to demand their annual bonus.

While the protest has largely been peaceful, last evening factory security guards dispersed the crowds, injuring a few and destroying a megaphone, according to the man at the centre of the walkout, Khem Makara, a member of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union.

“At about 5pm, there was violence between the company [guards] and workers, causing a few workers to get injured, but not seriously,” he said.

He said the accusation of inciting workers was unfounded because they had the right to demand their bonus, which he says they depend on financially.

May Nimith, a factory administrator, yesterday said Makara had led workers on multiple strikes in the past, leading to hefty losses for the company, which is why they decided to cancel worker bonuses this year.

“Khem Makara used to switch off the lights in the company and demand that the workers leave work to protest,” he said. “We cannot keep him in the company.”

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