Grand Twins International garment factory in Phnom Penh on Monday fired more than 600 workers for failing to show up at their stations on Saturday after they were informed by the company that attendance on the day between the Water Festival and Independence Day holidays was mandatory, workers and union representatives said.
Sitho Vanny, 20, who has worked at the factory for two years, said she noticed the sign posted on the factory gate Monday on her way to the market, announcing that some 650 workers had been fired because they did not come to work on Saturday.
“Their names were crossed out [of the employee register] because they did not come to work on Saturday,” she said, adding that all workers had been informed last Tuesday via loudspeaker that they would lose their jobs if they did not return to work on Saturday following the Water Festival break.
Nuon Ny, president of Trade Union Cambodia Support Workers, confirmed that more than 600 workers had been fired, but said many had returned to their home provinces for the Water Festival and thought they could come back to work today, following the Independence Day public holiday.
“When the workers return to work on Tuesday, they will see the company has issued a declaration firing these workers,” Mr. Ny said. “They are unhappy now and if the [fired employees] are not allowed to go back to work, the workers will strike again in solidarity.”
The Taiwanese-owned factory in Pur Senchey district, which is one of only two companies listed on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), won an injunction from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court earlier this month to quell an ongoing strike over wages and working conditions.
About 5,000 workers returned to work on October 30 in compliance with the court order, which said a continuation of the strike would amount to serious misconduct on the part of workers. In a filing on the CSX that week, Grand Twins also noted that employees had resumed working as normal.
But the following day, workers resumed their strike after rumor spread that two union representatives pocketed $20,000 that Grand Twins had given them to disburse to protesters in an attempt to get them back to work.
The factory issued a statement saying the rumor was untrue, but it failed to appease strikers, whose representatives said they were still dissatisfied that the company had made only minor concessions.
Last week, Sry Kimyou, a lawyer representing Grand Twins, said the company would take legal action against workers who failed to abide by the court injunction.
Mr. Kimyou declined to comment Monday. Ly Kun Thai, who is on Grand Twins board of directors, said he was too busy to talk.
Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which counts Grand Twins among its members, said his office was closed Monday for the holiday and he had not heard the news.
“I don’t know any specifics, but strikes at the factory have been ongoing for a long time and the company had a court order so I am presuming that workers failed to obey by the injunction issued some time ago,” he said.