More than 30 former garment workers protested outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court Friday, demanding an injunction that would allow them to sell equipment from a defunct factory they used to work for.
Holding signs emblazoned with photographs of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany, that said “Help us!” and “Help our children!” the group implored the court to issue a ruling that would protect the valuable equipment inside the Chung Fai Knitwear factory, where they once worked.
More than 200 employees of the Chinese-owned factory, located in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Krom commune, found themselves unemployed in June after the sweater and sock manufacturer went bankrupt.
Heng Bong, a lawyer for the former employees, said the workers believe they are entitled to sell the equipment inside the factory in lieu of payment, and fear it will be taken away by the Chung Fai company.
“There are some sewing machines and other equipment in factory, so workers want the court to issue the injunction because they want to avoid anyone burning it or taking it out,” she said.
Ms. Bong said the group had not yet received the severance or holiday pay they were owed, but that the workers had agreed the money from the sale of the machines would be adequate remuneration.
Though the court questioned four protesters yesterday, Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Y Rin said a decision would not be made until next week.
Born Leanghout, 38, a former worker, said she and others had gone to extreme lengths to safeguard the valuable equipment.
“Now we are staying overnight to protect this property,” she said, adding that the women had taken turns camping outside every night since its closure.
“This property could be the last chance for us if the owner will not return back pay to us,” she said.
Factory representatives could not be reached for comment.