200 Garment Workers Protest Low Wages, Forced Overtime

About 200 garment factory workers marched to the National Assembly and the US Embassy on Tuesday morning demanding higher pay and the end to forced overtime.

The workers, from the Yukon Garment Factory in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district, said through loudspeakers that they are forced to work overtime and are asking for an increase from $30 to $60 per month. The na­tion’s labor law stipulates minimum monthly salaries of $40.

“The workers ask the government and the National Assembly to help them solve these violations and to protect the rights of the workers,” one of the protesters said through the loudspeaker aimed at the US Embassy.

“If the workers refused to work overtime, then they would be dismissed without any reason,” a protester claimed.

Management of the factory could not be reached for comment.

Four representatives said they met with the embassy’s economic officer for 30 minutes and told the protesters after exiting the compound that he would investigate the case and speak to the Minister of Social Affairs.

The embassy would neither confirm nor deny that the meeting took place.

Five Yukon worker representatives later met with parliamentarians Kan Mann (Fun) and Kem Sokha (BLDP-Son Sann), who both pledged to investigate the workers’ complaints. They said they would go to the factory with Minister of Social Affairs Suy Sem to investigate the charges.

“The owner of the factory has not respected the labor law and has violated human rights [in the factory],” Kan Mann said.

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