Hundreds of Workers in Takeo Block Road Over Wage Dispute

Hundreds of workers at an electronics factory who have been on strike for almost two weeks calling for wages equal to their peers in the garment sector blocked National Road 3 in Takeo province on Wednesday after the provincial court ordered them to return to work, officials said.

About 400 workers at the Kuantech (Cambodia) factory, which supplies tech giant Samsung, walked out on June 11 after claiming factory bosses had not heeded an agreement to increase salaries from $123 to $128 for workers who had been employed for three months.

An order from the Arbitration Council for the striking workers to return to work on June 15 was ignored.

In a court document issued Tuesday, Judge Chea Sokchandeth ordered workers to “return to their workplace and duties within 48 hours after this information is issued,” and continue working until the court makes a decision.

But rather than returning to their stations, many workers arrived at the Tram Kak district factory Wednesday morning and walked straight back out.

“When we went into the factory, [managers] asked us to give thumbprints and take our [employment] cards, therefore we decided not to work,” said 25-year-old worker Chum Srey Aun, adding that protests would continue until the factory raised monthly wages to $128, the minimum wage in the garment sector.

Provincial police chief Ouk Samnang said workers began blocking the road around 8 a.m. and stayed there for about an hour.

“We asked them break up and they agreed with us,” he said. “There will be negotiations between the unions, workers and employers tomorrow at the Ministry of Labor.”

Ek Meanith, an administrator for Kuantech, said the remaining strikers were only a fraction of the factory’s overall workforce.

“They started about 13 days ago and there were many people in the beginning, about 500 workers…and now there are only about 100,” he said.

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