Investors Vow to Improve Labor Relations

Chinese investment leaders deplored the recent violent demon­stration and fire that gutted the Goldfame Enterprises gar­ment factory and vowed to build better relations with their employees Thursday at a news conference.

“Coming across this painful ex­perience, we are learning many more good lessons on how to handle these problems in the future,” said Yum Sui Sang, the chairman of the Chinese Busi­ness Association, which represents business leaders from Chi­na, Hong Kong and Macau.

Yum said Thursday at the Ho­tel Inter-Continental that he is in­structing investors to find fairer solutions to labor problems.

“We will try to figure out peaceful solutions to the problems, if there are any,” he said.

The conference was held primarily to discuss labor problems in the wake of factory fire on March 24 in Kandal province at the Goldfame Enterprises Inter­national Knitters Ltd, which has been the scene of earlier disturbances.

The fire was reportedly set by workers who were upset by poor wages and who accused factory owners of blocking unionization.

Yum said that a lack of understanding and language barriers between employers and employees had caused the problems at Goldfame. He said the poor education level of workers was also a factor.

At the conference, he urged unions and NGOs to educate workers about pro­testing legally.

Yum blamed the violence on a small group of employees that he said were not representative of the majority.

“Most workers helped to put out the fire and they were sorry for the incident,” he said. No arrests have been made in the fire incident.

Some 4,000 workers were left unemployed after the factory was gutted. Many of the workers said they would return to farming rice.

Yum said Thursday that the Gold­fame factory owners would re­build the factory and return it to  operation by the end of April.

Most of the clients of Goldfame are from Europe and the US, such as The Limited/Structure, Target and Mervyn’s, he said. Yum said the clients didn’t react “too negatively.”

According to Yun, the factory has yet to miss a shipment. The factory collected a $14 million profit from the sale of sweaters.

Earlier, the workers filed complaints with the Ministry of Labor and in early March they asked garment unions in the US to complain to US buyers about the allegations of union-busting.


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