Employers Call for Crack Down as Strikes Continue

With thousands of garment workers apparently joining their striking colleagues every day this week, factories are calling for authorities to step in, an employers’ representative said yesterday.

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said employers gave police photographic and video evidence of striking workers threatening those who were still working yesterday.

“We have asked the government to step in and ensure public order. We expect to see the results” today, he said. A National Police spokesman was unavailable.

The Cambodian Labor Confederation and GMAC gave sharply divergent accounts of the number of workers involved in the third day of the strikes.

CLC Secretary-General Kong Athit said that 159,850 workers stayed away from 96 factories, up more than 15,000 from Tuesday.

GMAC estimated that around 30,000 workers missed work yesterday, with production halted at 22 factories, according to Mr Loo.

Labor Ministry officials had yet to give an official estimate of how many workers had participated in the work stoppages. Chea Senghong, director of the labor dispute department, said he was in a meeting about the strike and declined to comment.

Mr Loo said workers were deliberately blocking deliveries to and from the factories.

“For vehicles carrying goods they just stand and block the roads,” he said.

Union representatives claimed five workers at two Phnom Penh factories were slightly injured after being struck by factory vehicles yesterday.

Ieng Kim Hun, CLC representative at the Pine Great factory in Meanchey district, said two workers from Pine Great and three from the nearby GHG factory had suffered minor injuries after the incident.

Mr Athit did not deny that the workers were trying to block the vehicles.

“The employers tried to transfer their products to other factories and workers stopped them,” he said.

He said factories had no right to shift production during a strike, so workers were acting according to the law by blocking the vehicles.

Torrential rain in the capital did nothing to dampen spirits at Dangkao district’s Canadia Industrial Park, where several hundred workers gathered yesterday. The workers blocked the main road into the complex, though union representatives were quick to clear a path for any vehicle that tried to pass.

There were not many. The park was almost empty save the striking workers, and none of the factories in the complex appeared to be producing.

GMAC said this was because the union had intimidated and warned workers to stay away.

“The workers are afraid…. [The union] know where the workers stay,” Mr Loo said.

Mr Athit was quick to deny that claim. “We do not have a culture of intimidation,” he said.

He said that while it was possible the strikes could be extended if employers did not back down, that decision had not been made yet.


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