About 5,000 workers from the Grand Twins International (GTI) garment factory in Phnom Penh who have been striking over wages and working conditions briefly returned to their stations Thursday in compliance with a court order, but resumed protesting the next day after rumors spread that two union leaders had pocketed money offered to them by the company.
Workers at the Taiwanese-owned factory in Pur Senchey district—one of only two companies listed on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)—returned to work Thursday with the municipal court saying they would risk being found guilty of serious misconduct if they continued their strike, according to a company filing on the CSX the same day.
“GTI would like to announce that workers and employees have resumed working as normal,” the filing adds.
But after a rumor spread that two union representatives stole $20,000 Grand Twins gave them to distribute among the protesters to convince them to return to work, the workers decided to resume their strike Friday, said Kim Nahour, president of the Cambodian Federation Voices of Worker Union.
Mr. Nahour said that during negotiations Monday, managers denied the rumor, saying no money was ever exchanged.
“[T]he factory representatives wrote a letter to clarify that [the factory] did not give money to the unions and the unions did not get the money from them,” he said, adding that the talks broke down anyway.
Nuon Ny, president of Trade Union Cambodia Support Workers, said Monday the workers would continue striking, as the company had only made minor concessions.
“The company will no longer make workers…wash the clothing and blankets of the Chinese managers, who will no longer curse at the workers and point in their faces when they make small mistakes,” Mr. Ny said.
Srea Kimyou, a lawyer representing Grand Twins, said Monday the company would consider taking legal action if the workers continue to flout the court injunction.