About 1,000 workers at the Ocean Garment Factory in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district went on strike Tuesday morning after a worker was allegedly beaten by factory management, police said.
Chan Chanda, 20, said she was beaten by her Bangladeshi supervisor, a man identified as Gas, when she told him she could not produce any more clothes.
“My sewing machine was broken so I could not produce more clothes…and Gas beat me,” Chan Chanda said. After Gas beat her, he offered her $1.25 so she would not complain to police, Chan Chanda said.
Chan Chanda then complained to the commune’s police, and when other workers at the factory heard her story, they went on strike.
The factory’s Free Trade Union president, Roeung Narom, accused the factory’s management of “often” beating its workers, adding that the workers also went on strike because the management frequently failed to adhere to a collective bargaining agreement between workers and the factory.
After negotiations between the factory and the workers Tuesday afternoon, the management offered Chan Chanda $500 in compensation, Roeung Narom said.
The deputy police chief for Chaom Chau commune, Loeurng Ly, confirmed that he had received a complaint from Chan Chanda asking for $1,000 in compensation, but that she had retracted her complaint and accepted the $500 offered by the factory.
Roeung Narom said that in addition to beating workers, in 1999 a worker was raped in the factory by a manager but had not complained because there was no union at the time.
Ocean Garment Factory’s managing director, who identified himself as Amad and refused to provide Gas’ full name, denied the rape allegation and downplayed Chan Chanda’s beating.
“It’s not true that Gas beat her… he was only making a joke,” Amad said. Amad also denied paying compensation to Chan Chanda, saying only that the factory and the workers had resolved the conflict.