60 Workers Allegedly Fired For Trying To Organize

KC Gecin Enterprises, a Phnom Penh manufacturer of concrete pillars, reportedly fired about sixty workers on Friday for attempting to found a union, former workers and a union representative said.

The workers, who say they were dismissed from the company without adequate explanation, planned to protest today at the company’s main office in Meanchey district’s Chak Angre Loeu commune, according to Sok Kin, deputy president of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union.

“The company dismissed workers due to discrimination against the union…. All the people who attempted to create the union were fired by the company,” Mr Kin said. He said that he informed the company about plans to form a union on Thursday, and many workers still do not know why they were fired the next day.

Chum Han, 27, an employee at KC Gecin Enterprises for six years, said that he was fired without notice or sufficient reason except for an unexplained redundancy.

“We hadn’t even created the union yet, but they dismissed us…. We will protest to get our jobs back,” Mr Han said.

Moeun Tola, head of the labor program at the Community Legal Education Center said that the company broke the law and that the fired employees must be reinstated. “The freedom to form a union is protected by our constitutional law,” Mr Tola said.

A company representative who gave his name only as Phana denied that the dismissals were linked to the formation of a union.

“The dismissal of those workers is because there are not many jobs for them to do. If we have fewer orders from our customers, we lay off a number of workers,” Phana said.

Labor Ministry officials either declined to comment or could not be reached yesterday. By law, employers must pay severance wages to employees whose contracts of fixed duration are not terminated due to misconduct.

Danh Sovan Sothy, the newly elected leader of the Building and Wood Workers Union at KC Gecin Enterprises, which was formed yesterday, said that he did not fear dismissal.

“I believe that I will be fired by the company as I have become leader of this new union. I love freedom and justice. I want to help my colleagues,” Mr Sovan Sothy said.


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