Garment Workers Continue Protest After Factory Owner Flees

About 400 garment workers who lost their jobs when their factory abruptly closed earlier this month blocked access to Canadia Industrial Park on Saturday to demand full severance pay.

Workers from the Hongkong Yufeng factory, which unexpectedly closed on June 9, are demanding that management of the Canadia Park take responsibility for money they are owed because the owner of the factory has disappeared.

Canadia Park has already coughed up about $100,000 to pay the workers their monthly salary for April, and the first week of June, according to the workers’ union and a representative of Canadia Park.

“The reason that we protest and block the road in Canadia Industrial Park is because we did not get the bonus money,” said Chor Rong, 36, a former machine supervisor at Hongkong Yufeng.

Mr. Rong said he is owed about $500 in severance pay and will continue to protest until his demands are met.

After blocking access to the industrial park for about two hours on Saturday morning, causing havoc for transport trucks, the workers won a meeting with representatives of the park, but no resolution was reached.

Dok Sam Ath, a representative of the workers, said Canadia is claiming it does not have enough money to pay out severance packages.

“We demand the park officials to think of our demands,” he said.

Lung Kimsin, who was the assistant administration director at Hongkong Yufeng, said the factory could not afford to pay the workers’ salaries and so the owner fled.

“We didn’t know what to do because the boss fled,” said Mr. Kimsin. “Our boss fled because he did not have salaries for the workers.”

According to the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia’s registry of factories, Hongkong Yufeng produces jeans and trousers, and is 70 percent Japanese-owned, with the remaining stake being held by a Chinese investor.

The factory’s website features a photo gallery of smiling workers and says: “We started with creating an environment where our employees can work happily, because we believe that a good working environment produce great work.”

According to a workers’ union, the factory produced goods for Gap and Adidas. Workers have said orders seemed normal in the weeks before the sudden closure.

Sieng Sambath, president of the Workers Friendship Union Federation, one of two unions representing the workers, said protests would continue today unless severance packages are paid in full.

“The factory ought to have paid the money owed to workers,” said Mr. Sambath. “Those workers cannot last a long time without the money owned to them.”

A representative of Canadia Industrial Park, who refused to provide his name when reached by telephone, said the park is in negotiation with the workers to resolve the problem.

“We have the position to resolve this problem,” he said. “We cannot say something more.”

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