Factory Shuts Down, Doesn’t Pay Salaries

About 400 garment workers arrived for their shifts and monthly pay at Phnom Penh’s Hongkong Yufeng factory Tuesday only to find it shuttered and its owner nowhere to be found, workers’ representatives said.

“Today is payday for the workers and since the employer did not have the money to provide to the workers, he ran away yesterday evening,” said Liv Tharin, president of the Independence of Democratic Youth Trade Unions.

“About 400 workers have to pay their rent, for food,” he said, adding that the factory produced garments for global brands including Gap and Adidas.

Mr. Tharin said the workers—whose factory is in the Canadia Industrial Park, where military police shot dead at least five garment protesters in January—have begun protesting outside the factory demanding their May salary be paid in full.

“We do not know the reason behind his running away—whether Gap or Adidas stop orders or what,” he said.

Managers at the Hongkong Yufeng factory could not be reached for comment.

Workers at the Ocean Garment factory in Phnom Penh also protested last month after being informed that the factory was shutting down operations for a month, and would pay them only $15 during that time, due to flagging demand from buyers including Gap.

A group of 30 major clothing brands and global unions met with government officials at the end of May and said the future of the garment industry was dependent upon an end to violence against workers and supply disruptions due to labor unrest.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia says that brands have already started to scale back orders.

Elsewhere Tuesday, workers said a strike at the T&K Garment factory, which began on June 4, ended Tuedsay after the factory threatened to cut workers’ salaries.

The workers had been demanding 2,000 riel, or about $0.50, for a daily lunch allowance.

“Ninety percent of the workers will go back because they are afraid of losing their salary,” said Chy Sokhan, a worker in the factory. “The owners broke their spirit for going on strike.”

Officials at T&K also could not be reached for comment.

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