After about 200 workers protested in Phnom Penh on Tuesday morning, a CPP lawmaker said she traveled to a Chinese-owned garment factory in Kandal province to lobby management to rehire seven workers, including six who say they were fired earlier this month for taking part in a small protest.
The unrest at the SixPlus garment factory began on July 7 when a worker named Oeurn Piseth was dismissed after deciding to leave a “factory friendly” union and join another union, according to Hun Muny, a member of the Cambodian Labour Union Federation.
“At first, the unionist quit another factory-friendly union and joined mine after he realized that the union didn’t help the workers at all,” said Mr. Muny, adding that six other workers were fired for joining Mr. Piseth in protest outside the factory.
Mr. Muny said that more workers began to join the cause, and decided to travel to Phnom Penh after hundreds of police in Mok Kampoul district were deployed to break up a protest in front of the factory’s gate on Monday.
Despite initially being blocked Tuesday by police at Chroy Changva bridge, workers were eventually allowed to drive through and deliver petitions to the Labor Ministry and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet before being met by CPP lawmaker Lork Kheng at the National Assembly.
After listening to the workers’ grievances, Ms. Kheng said she traveled to Kandal to ask factory administrators to give the seven workers their jobs back.
“I urged the employers to admit those seven dismissed back to work, and to consider workers’ demands, including the increase of transportation and food bonuses,” Ms. Kheng said.
“The employer has not agreed on anything yet, but we will wait for more solutions and I will try to coordinate further with them to end the conflict.”
Apart from demands for the seven workers to get their jobs back and better conditions at the factory, the workers’ petition accuses Mok Kampoul district police chief Som Seyhak of “trying to intimidate and attempting to use violence against the protesting workers.”
Mr. Seyhak denied the allegations.
“Don’t entirely believe those unions,” Mr. Seyhak said. “They should take an oath with the Dangker Spirit to clarify the accuracy,” he said, in an apparent reference to Preah Ang Dangker shrine on Phnom Penh’s riverside.
Last month, Mr. Hun Sen challenged opposition leader Sam Rainsy to take an oath at the same shrine, warning that if his claims that the 2013 election were not true, the CNRP president would be killed by lighting and bullets.