Thousands of Workers Go on Strike in Prey Veng

Some 3,000 workers protested in front of a garment factory in Prey Veng province Monday, calling for larger bonuses and better working conditions, according to unionists and factory representatives.

Employees of the Chinese-owned Komchay Mear Trading factory, which produces clothing for U.S. brand Gap, have been on strike since Thursday afternoon over a list of 25 demands including an extra 2,000 riel, about $0.50, for working on Sundays.

Negotiations held between workers and factory officials Saturday—the day after workers burned tires in front of the plant in Komchay Mear district—failed to produce a solution acceptable to both sides.

Buth Bunchhean, a representative of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU), which organized the strike, said Monday that the factory had yet to respond to the workers’ demands, which were formally submitted on August 25.

“The workers will not go back to work if the factory does not respond to their requests,” he said.

Chan Chhorvon, Komchay Mear’s administrative director, disputed CCAWDU’s claim that the company had been notified about the strike ahead of time, but said the company was considering the workers’ extensive list of demands.

“During the workers’ strike, not only does the factory waste profits, but the workers lose their benefits as well,” Ms. Chhorvon said.

In a separate case, representatives of about 5,000 workers at the Taiwanese-owned Juhui Footwear factory in Kompong Cham province’s Choeung Prey district Monday said they would push on with a two-weeklong strike over pay and benefits.

The Juhui workers returned to the shoe factory briefly on Friday—after the provincial court issued an injunction ordering them to do so —but walked out on the same day after negotiations with managers again broke down.

On Saturday, the company responded by locking the workers out of the factory.

Mom Sarem, a representative of CCAWDU, said Monday that the factory’s administrative director, Teng Sambath, had threatened to fire the workers.

“[Monday] morning, Mr. Teng Sambath held up a microphone and threatened the workers by saying, ‘If all of you do not return to work, you will face being fired,’” she said.

Khai Chanthorn, a worker at the factory and union member, said Mr. Sambath also intimated that the factory would shut down.

“He also said, ‘After the factory closes its doors, the factory can either give the workers their severance pay or the workers can get it from the provincial labor department,’” he said.

Mr. Sambath could not be reached Monday.

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