About 300 employees of the shuttered Win Shingtex garment factory traveled to central Phnom Penh on Wednesday to ask Prime Minister Hun Sen for help in securing the money they believe they are owed under their contracts.
According to what the workers say is a notice they received from management on March 5, their last day on the job, the Hong Kong-owned factory states that it is closing for lack of orders and that the contracts of its roughly 550 employees have been terminated.
“Our company did not receive new orders from abroad this year. That is why our garment factory cannot continue the production process,” the notice says.
Pal Makara, a Win Shingtex employee and representative of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union at the factory, said the workers wanted to be paid their full wages up to the last day of each of their contracts, including their annual bonuses and severance.
Mr. Makara said the factory offered to pay each of them half of what they were asking for during a meeting organized by Pur Senchey authorities on March 22 but that the workers rejected the proposal.
“We cannot accept it because the company is violating the Labor Law and cheating the workers,” he said on Wednesday.
The union representative said the workers also suspected the company of attempting to shift its work elsewhere, explaining that some of them followed trucks transporting unfinished orders from the Win Shingtex facility to another, unmarked building.
He said about 300 workers jumped on trucks and motorbikes yesterday morning and attempted to reach Mr. Hun Sen’s house to seek his help but were diverted by police to the nearby Wat Botum park. There, he said, they were met by a member of the prime minister’s cabinet, Pal Chandara, who accepted their petition.
“I will go to find a solution with Labor Ministry officials this afternoon, and we will tell you the truth tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” Mr. Chandara said.
Representatives of Win Shingtex could not be reached.