Labor Leaders Are Raising Funds For Suspended Garment Workers

Labor leaders are raising funds to support the more than 300 garment workers and union representatives who remain suspended since par­ticipating in Sept­ember’s strikes, a union leader and worker re­­presentatives said yesterday.

Ath Thon, president of the Cam­bodian Labor Confederation, said that in November he had raised more than $15,500 to support the 779 people who were still suspended at that time. In Dec­ember, he raised $11,370 for the 379 re­maining suspended workers, of which each received about $30.

“We raised these funds from workers, development donors, and NGOs working with the labor sector to help those suspended workers,” he said. “We don’t want workers to have a chicken-hearted feeling when they face other problems.”

Mr Thon called on the Labor Min­­istry to help reinstate the workers, saying that otherwise he would appeal again to Prime Mi­nister Hun Sen.

“The companies violated [court judgments] and didn’t listen to the government,” he said. “We will file a complaint to the prime minister.”

Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Labor Ministry, declined to comment, saying he was sick. Huon Soeu and Khieu Savuth, de­puty directors of the ministry’s la­bor dispute department, also de­clined to comment.

Ker Sidney, an adviser to the Min­istry of Social Affairs, said most of the suspended workers were al­lowed to work, though he de­­­­clined to say how many.

“I helped tackle their problem and many of them went back to work,” he said.

Ek Sokpheakdey, CLC deputy president, said the number of workers suspended had de­creased to 318 and that his union would continue to assist workers.

“Some workers are still not al­lowed to return to work, because the companies still accuse those workers of conducting an illegal strike,” he said.

Keo Boeun, a suspended union re­presentative at Goldframes Inter­national Enterprises in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district, said he was now facing difficulties in his living situation.

“It’s very difficult because I don’t have much money to spend on food and rent,” he said. “I am waiting for a job.”



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