Garment Workers Take Protests to Labor Ministry

About 800 garment workers protested in front of the Labor Ministry in Phnom Penh on Tuesday while another group of striking workers who attacked managers at a factory in Kompong Cham province on Monday stuck to their promise to stop protesting until a meeting with the government later this week.

The 800 workers who converged on the Labor Ministry came from the Y&W Garment and CWKH Garment factories in Phnom Penh.

Some 1,500 workers at Y&W have been protesting since Monday last week for better benefits and the reinstatement of two fired union representatives. About 400 workers from CWKH have been on strike since September 8 demanding the reinstatement of 14 sacked union representatives, some of whom have since been summoned for questioning by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court for alleged illegal strike activity.

Krouch Sophary, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Labor’s general department of labor conflict, said he received petitions from the workers of both factories.

“We cannot do anything for the CWKH factory because it is out of our hands. It is still in the court’s hand,” he said. “The ministry will call the Y&W factory and its workers for a negotiation [today].”

At the Juhui Footwear factory in Kompong Cham, indus- trial peace was temporarily restored Tuesday. About 2,000 striking workers forced their way into the facility on Monday and threw rocks at their former supervisors, leaving two with head wounds.

Vong Sovann, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Labor’s general department of labor conflict, said he appealed to the local union on Monday to temporarily halt the protest and asked the factory not to pressure workers to return to work, and that both sides had obliged Tuesday.

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