Union Leader: Workers Told to Reject Rehiring

A Kompong Speu province garment factory told by the courts to re­hire fired union activists has “ordered” workers to demonstrate against the decision, a un­ion leader claimed.

On Monday management at Cam­bodia Apparel Industry collected thumbprints of all workers on a petition protesting the decision to rehire the seven labor ac­tivists, said Um Visal, the designated union leader who was also a plaintiff in the suit.

The management has put up ban­ners, supposedly expressing the workers’ sentiments, stating: “We do not support bringing the sev­en representatives back to work” and “We need a new representative,” Um Visal said. The management allegedly told workers that if they did not join the demonstration they would face pay cuts and the possible closing of the factory, Um Vis­al said. The management-ordered demonstration is likely to occur this week or next Monday, Um Visal said.

A person answering the phone at the Chinese-owned factory in Chambok village, Vor Sar commune, Samrong Tong district said no one who could speak Eng­lish or Khmer was available for comment.

A staff member last week said the factory may close next month and move to Viet­nam. He said the court ruling was politically motivated.

On March 13, Kompong Speu province’s chief judge ordered the company to rehire the seven workers and pay each of them two years’ back pay plus $1,000.

Labor activists and a US Em­bassy official said the closely watched decision was the first time a court had moved to en­force freedom of association guarantees written into the labor law.

Labor activists say they are only trying to ensure that the factory owners obey labor laws.

Fac­tory owners are changing workers’ ID cards every two months as a pretext to withhold bonuses and regular pay increases to long-time workers, Um Visal said.


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