Owners Penalized for Violating Labor Law

The Chinese owners of two garment factories were fined a total of $1,250 in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday for violating Cambodian labor law.

In the first case, Judge Kim Ravy ordered Wong Enterprise Ltd owner Wong Chi Pai Ben to pay $500 for not appointing a public relations officer after being ordered to do so by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training.

A Ministry of Labor representative, who declined to be named, said the ministry had filed the order in June to help solve any disputes between the factory and union workers, but the company never responded. Wong did not appear in court Monday.

In a separate case, the owners of Yong Chao Cambodia Garment factory in Russei Keo district were found guilty of not telling workers when the factory would be open, failing to post internal regulations, not paying for overtime and not giving workers weekly holidays. The factory also did not have a public relations officer.

Kim Ravy fined owners Zhou Jian Jun and Tan Bin $750 for the infractions. Neither man appeared in court.

Free Trade Union president Chea Mony said Monday that prosecution against factories is rare and often ineffective in forcing owners to abide by the law.

“The amount of the penalty is little and only a very small number of factories are prosecuted,” he said. “More factories are violating the workers’ rights.”

The Cambodian government is relying on the country’s image as a labor-friendly garment producer to help carry it through the expiration of the US quota system on Jan 1, 2005.

On Jan 1, 1999, Cambodia and the US entered into a five-year agreement that set a quota on textile and apparel imports by the US.                         The deal also implemented a clause stating that the quota would be increased if Cambodia could improve factory working conditions to comply with Cam­bodian labor law and international labor practices.

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