Ocean Staff Double-Down on Wage Demands

More than 200 workers from the Ocean Garment Factory on Friday filled 18 trucks and drove to the Ministry of Labor, where they spent two hours in a notably sedate protest calling for their wages in full, despite the factory having suspended business for a month.

But, after two hours quietly sitting outside the Ministry, the protesters left following a request to be patient while a meeting between the Ministry of Labor and representatives of the factory was arranged.

“Now, we have to wait for a date when [the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia] and Ocean can meet with investors in order to compromise and be clear about how long the suspension will be,” said Prak Chan Thoeun, secretary general of the National Committee for Demonstration and Strike Resolution.

Staff at Ocean began protesting late last month after the factory announced that it was suspending business from May 26 through June 26—due to a lack of orders from brands including Gap—and was planning on paying staff just $15.

Initially, staff demanded that they be paid 50 percent of their wages for the month, but on Friday upped the ante, calling for their full wages.

Dim Srey Mom, a 24-year-old Ocean employee, said that staff feared that they would soon lose heir jobs and have nothing.

“I think the Ocean boss is trying to finish everything and sublease to a new investor,” she said. “Receiving only $15 is not enough to pay for the house, electricity and water.”

The Ocean staff on June 3 attempted to march to the Ministry of Labor but were blocked by police just one kilometer away.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, which has supported the Ocean staff in their protest, said last night that he had hand delivered a petition to the cabinet of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The petition calls for the Prime Minister to compel the factory to pay the full salaries of the workers or, failing that, pay severance according to individuals’ length of service to the company.

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