Factory Workers To Stage Weeklong Strike

Garment factory workers at MSI Garment (Cambodia) Ltd in Dangkao district will strike this week to protest the suspension of an employee accused of stealing money from the factory, a lawyer for the striking workers said.

The protest comes on the heels of an 11-day strike that ended Thursday, when 100 armed mem­bers of the Intervention Police riot suppression unit stormed a crowd of 2,200 striking workers, injuring 100.

“We will again strike against factory owners whenever resolutions are not found,” Lee Veng, a law assistant with the National Inde­pendent Federation of Tex­tile Un­ions of Kampuchea, said Sunday.

Representatives of the MSI Garment factory workers and owners and officials from the Garment Manufacturers’ Associ­ation in Cambodia were to meet Saturday, but the meeting was canceled because GMAC officials were absent, Lee Veng said.

“We are going to request that the factory owners allow workers to work without any intimidation,” he said. Employees will extend the strike if the Arbitration Council does not issue a decision within one week, he added.

But GMAC labor issue officer Cheath Khemara called the federation’s proposal unacceptable, saying Sunday the Council must have 15 days to resolve a dispute.

The Council is an independent dispute-resolution body elected by the workers and factory owners, comprised of one representative each from the government, the union and GMAC.

A municipal court on Saturday declared the strike illegal and ordered employees to return to work within 48 hours, Cheath Khemara said. He said the court warned employees that if they did not return to work they would be making the “strong mistake” of violating article 337 of the labor law, which grants the court authority to determine the legality of a strike and holds that workers can be fired for defying court orders to return to work.

“I met directly with the factory manager on Saturday morning in order to ask him to hold a meeting [with union representatives], but he replied that everything will be solved when the workers agree to return to work,” he said.

Cheath Khemara said he hoped that factory unions and the federation would appeal to workers to return to work, saying he doesn’t want employees to lose their benefits. The factory em­ploys 1,600 people, he said. Of those, 500 have con­tinued to work despite the strike.

 

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