Factories Prevent Workers’ Return, Unions Claim

Union representatives who were suspended in the wake of last month’s garment sector strikes claim they were still not allowed to go back to work yesterday, despite the fact that court orders preventing them from returning have been rescinded.

“Now we receive the court’s decision that allows workers and union representatives to work, but the company side refused to let them go to work,” said Ek Sokpheakdey, deputy president of the Cambodian Labor Confederation–the union that led September’s mass strikes.

According to a report released by the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Democratic Workers Union–headed by CLC President Ath Thon–nine factories in Phnom Penh municipality and Kandal, Kompong Speu and Takeo provinces were refusing to accept court instructions and take back their suspended workers and union representatives.

Mr Sokpheakdey said about 600 workers and union representatives were being prevented from returning. He urged workers to remain calm until a solution could be found.

“We don’t want to have strikes happen. We will suggest [to] all relevant parties to facilitate [discussion] and solve this problem,” he said.

Keo Boeun, a union representative at Goldfame Enterprises (Int’l) Knitters in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district, said he had been told to stay away until after the Pchum Ben holiday, which ends Friday.

Phin Sophea, a CLC representative at River Rich Textile factory in the same district, said he had been told the same.

Representatives of Goldfame could not be reached yesterday. Sung Chung Men, manager at the River Rich factory, said the company had allowed all its workers to return, bar 24 union representatives. These 24 were named on a court injunction obtained by the factory on Sept 16 and rescinded by the provincial court yesterday.

“The court [said] yes, but our lawyers now consider what to do,” he said.

He said no decision would be taken until after the holiday, and that unions and NGOs had offered to help facilitate negotiations between the workers and the factory after Pchum Ben.

(Additional reporting by Ian Williamson)


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