Garment Workers Fear Unrest, Leave Their Jobs

An unspecified number of garment factory workers have left their jobs and returned to their home provinces because of a fear of unrest surrounding the upcoming election, according to a Monday statement from the Garment Manu­facturers Association of Cambodia.

GMAC appealed to garment workers to remain calm and continue at their jobs.

“[T]he workers say that they fear of any possible unrest during election time. Similarly, some have been called by their parents to return home,” the release said.

GMAC External Affairs Mana­ger Kaing Monika said that he did not know how many workers had left early, but added that 10 factories had complained about the situation.

“It’s small and it’s not a problem now, but we are concerned it could become a trend and hurt productivity,” he said. “It’s a short-term issue.”

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said he understood the workers’ concerns and supported their decisions because of the election and the troop build­up on the Thai border.

“They can go. It is their right,” he said.

Chuon Mum Thol, president of the Cambodia Union Federation, said that his union’s workers have not left work because of the election.

“It is wrong that they leave early. They should cut their salaries for punishment,” he said.

Oum Mean, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Labor, said Monday that workers are responsible for the consequences if they leave without permission.

“If they leave and negotiate, it’s a different story,” he said.

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