Strike Continues in P Sihanouk as Factory File Complaint

More than 600 workers at a garment factory in Preah Sihanouk province will strike for the fourth day today to demand the reinstatement of their union representative, workers said yesterday.

Phim Youen, who works at PY International in Preah Sihanouk City’s Buon commune, said almost 700 workers would resume their strike today if the factory did not take back Mao Piseth, a representative of the Rights and Profits of Worker Federation Trade Union who was fired on Oct 23.

“They accused Mr Piseth of hitting another person but he didn’t,” she said.

Mr Piseth said yesterday that prior to his firing workers were negotiating with the factory for improved conditions and benefits. He said he was then accused of physically attacking one of the factory managers and dismissed.

“I didn’t do that. It is because of my standing as a union representative,” he said.

PY’s chief of administration, Orn Sonchenpisey, said that reinstating Mr Piseth was not an option.

“We warned him three times about absence, playing cards and bringing snacks into the factory. But the serious mistake that drove us to fire him was that he attempted to fight the factory president,” he said.

“This dismissal is not related to union discrimination,” he added.

Mr Sonchenpisey said the factory lodged a complaint on Friday with the Arbitration Council, a multi-party body tasked with resolving labor disputes.

Yov Khemara, director of the provincial labor department, said that the case had been passed to the council following several failed attempts at mediation. He said workers were demanding Mr Piseth’s reinstatement before they would talk about anything else.

“As long as the union does not reach [this] point, they will not move on to talk about other points,” he said, adding that he felt the strikes had not been conducted according to correct legal procedure.

Tak Vantha, provincial police chief, said he had received a complaint from the factory asking police to keep order during the strike, adding that police action would depend on the situation.

“The arrest depends on legal procedure. We have to check if this strike is conducted legally or not,” he said.


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