About 20 representatives for more than 2,000 striking workers—accused by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) of damaging the industry’s reputation—marched to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday asking it to revoke an injunction ordering them back to work.
The workers left their stations at the M&V International Manufacturing factory, which supplies global fashion retailer H&M, on May 19 to demand management address 17 points, including a raise in their monthly transport allowance to $15 and a $1 daily lunch allowance.
They returned to the factory Tuesday on the municipal court’s orders but walked out again Thursday as negotiations stalled once more, workers said.
Hem Sok Ponlok, president of the Cambodia Industrial Union Federation, said workers would be open to negotiations if the order is revoked.
“We hope we might have negotiations with the factory bosses, but we will still protest. We also hope the Arbitration Council will push the factory to negotiate,” he said.
The union leader refuted a GMAC statement dated May 30 which said that unions involved in the strike “seriously damaged and affected the economic situation of the company and caused a negative impact to the garments sector.”
“GMAC works for the factories so they have to accuse…the union,” Mr. Sok Ponlok said. “GMAC wants to put down the reputation of unions.”
Worker Kean Sokhim, 39, said she felt the voices of workers were not being heard by factory bosses.
“I worked for 48 hours but the factory didn’t come out to negotiate with us, that’s why we ask [the municipal court] to revoke the injunction,” she said.
Prak Chanthoeun, director general of the Labor Ministry’s labor conflict department, said workers would not have any of their demands met if they continue to protest.
“They didn’t go to work, so how can they receive an increase from the factory?” he said.
“If they go back to work tomorrow or Monday, we will ask the factory to negotiate.”