The Coalition of Cambodian Garment Workers Democratic Union has called on police to arrest two Chinese managers at a Phnom Penh garment factory, claiming they have disappeared with the salaries of hundreds of workers.
In a Thursday statement to municipal and national police, the union called for the arrest of the managers at Gold Lida factory in Dangkao district, adding that they have been missing since Sunday and are believed to still be in Cambodia. Workers say that the factory owes them the entire December payroll of $62,309.
“We would like you to arrest the two people,” the union said in the letter, adding that the unpaid workers “are living in misery without money for rent.”
Some 800 Gold Lida factory workers protested against the managers at the factory Wednesday, but the factory fell quiet Thursday after union officials padlocked the factory’s gates and handed the keys to police, said Suong Sayon, the union’s leader at the factory.
“We want the [Labor] Ministry to sell the property to pay the workers,” he said.
Many workers live hand to mouth and are unable to pay rent this month, he said, adding that landlords have begun demanding that workers move out of their homes.
In December, the factory’s managers asked staff to work more overtime than usual, and workers suspect the factory cannot afford to pay the salaries owed, he said.
Huon Soeur, director of the labor dispute office at the Labor Ministry, said he has checked at the factory and confirmed that two people have fled without paying workers.
Labor Ministry Secretary of State Othsman Hassan said his ministry will investigate the case and inspect the factory’s properties to see what can be sold to pay the workers.
Factory management could not be reached by telephone for comment Thursday.
Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said he had not received a copy of the union’s complaint and declined further comment.