Garment Factory Faces Fines in Labor Row

A garment factory is facing fines and a court complaint for its failure to reinstate fired union leaders, a Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor official said last week.

Splendid Chance International Ltd has run out of time to uphold a long-standing agreement with the ministry to restore two men fi­red for allegedly intimidating workers, Huot Chanthy, the ministry’s di­rector of labor inspection, said Thursday.

Labor Ministry Secre­tary of State Say Siphon gave the Russei Keo district factory an ultimatum last month: Reinstate and pay Kim Yong and Ly Bunsao within 15 days, or pay a fine and go to court.

Say Siphon issued the warning Nov 19, four months after manager Lin Chih Wen agreed to reinstate two leaders of the Cambod­ian Coalition of Apparel Workers Democratic Union.

The Labor Law stipulates that union leaders may be fired only after the case is tried in court.

Splendid Chance has bucked the ministry’s order because it claims the Coalition did not comply with laws for establishing un­ions, factory lawyer Kim Youn said. Also, Lin Chih Wen only agreed to reinstate the workers be­cause of pressure from the La­bor Ministry, she said.

Splendid Chance has filed a com­­plaint at Phnom Penh Muni­cipal Court to invalidate the un­ion’s operating license and will not reinstate the workers until a verdict is issued, Kim Youn said. She added that the manager has not restored the leaders because their intimidation upset employees.

Union federation president Chhorn Sokha, in a letter Tues­day, requested Minister of Com­merce Cham Prasidh to intervene.

“In case there is no solution, the union will hold a non-violent demonstration,” she warned.

Chhorn Sokha said the Labor Ministry does little to punish violators of the Labor Law, alleging that the threat to Splendid Chance was an empty promise made to im­press US labor inspectors visiting in November. The US’ assessment of garment in­dustry working conditions helped determine next year’s US garment quota size.

“The factory and the ministry are working together. They want to cheat the US for more quota only,” Chhorn Sokha said.


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