Fired Factory Workers Refuse Severance, Vow More Protests

More than 5,000 employees of the Juhui Footwear Factory in Kompong Cham province who were fired on Tuesday after joining strikes to demand bonus pay and better benefits Wednesday rejected their severance packages and vowed to continue protesting.

“We reject the full severance pay because we have not given up our jobs. We will protest in front of the factory again as soon as possible,” said Sam Thoeun, an employee of the Taiwanese-owned factory in Choeung Prey district.

The workers have been on strike since September 1 and were informed that they had been fired when the factory posted the names of the 5,000-plus sacked employees in front of the factory Tuesday, Mr. Thoeun said.

“The factory put a list of workers’ names who were fired in front of the factory. They fired us after we went on strike and joined the protests in front of the factory,” he said.

That has left only the few hundred employees who did not join the strikes to carry on the factory’s work.

Het Hun, an official for the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, which represents the workers, said protests outside the factory would be suspended until after the Pchum Ben holiday, which ends on Wednesday.

“We told workers to stop protesting in front of the factory because we saw the workers are very angry. We are afraid that their anger will lead to violence…. We will resume protesting in front of the factory after the Pchum Ben holiday. We cannot accept the factory firing us,” he said.

Factory officials said Wednesday the workers gave up their jobs voluntarily.

“We did not fire them, but they gave up their jobs by themselves,” said Meng Ly, the factory director’s administrative assistant.

Cheng Heang, director of the provincial labor department, said factory executives told him the workers had not been fired.

“The factory said the workers gave up their jobs by themselves, but told [the workers] they would offer full severance pay to them,” he said.

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