The Labor Ministry has called on authorities to find the source of rumors that the country’s garment factories were planning to close for the month of December and arrest those responsible, according to a statement issued Saturday.
According to the ministry, as well as union leaders interviewed on Sunday, rumors of a countrywide closure of factories have been swirling around the industry in recent days.
“The ministry wishes to appeal to the public, garment workers and all professional organizations to stay quiet and please continue their work as usual to avoid the dissemination of mistruth from any groups of bad people,” the statement said.
It goes on to call on the same groups to “provide information urgently to the authorized persons to search and arrest the offenders and take action following the law.”
Prak Chanthoeun, director of the ministry’s conflict resolution department, said he believed the rumors were meant to sow unrest in the multibillion-dollar garment and footwear industry.
“I think that a group of bad people created the news in an attempt to make trouble among workers and they wanted workers to lose confidence in the government,” he said. “We will arrest and send those people to court if we find they are disseminating the rumors.”
Hing Bunthoeun, vice president of the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit, said that he had heard the rumors from members in Kandal and Kompong Speu provinces, but did not know the source.
Seang Channorn, a member of the union who works at a factory in Kompong Speu, said she had heard the rumors from a representative of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU).
However Ath Thorn, the head of CCAWDU, which is the country’s largest independent union, said he was surprised by the rumors and was telling his members to ignore them.
“I think that the accusation was made in an attempt to defame my union,” he said. “I told the workers please do not believe this information because it is only a rumor.”