Workers at Puma Supplier Rally Outside Court

About 200 employees of the Akeentex garment factory, which supplies sportswear giant Puma, rallied outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday morning against a court injunction ordering them to return to work after 11 days of striking, according to a union representative.

Following their threat to burn a banner bearing Puma’s logo on Friday over the terms of their contracts with the Malaysian- and Singaporean-owned factory in Meanchey district, the workers Monday gathered outside the court at about 10 a.m., demanding Puma’s intervention and requesting that the court revoke its injunction.

Akeentex workers hold signs that read 'The buyer PUMA has to solve the problem' at a protest outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Akeentex workers hold signs that read ‘The buyer PUMA has to solve the problem’ at a protest outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

“We came to the Phnom Penh court because we wanted Judge Pech Maren to suspend the injunction,” said Preap Munysovann, an official for the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW).

Mr. Munysovann added that the injunction states that his union incited the workers to strike, block roads, make loud noises and threaten workers who want to return to work—all of which he denied. He said the workers requested his union’s help a day after their strike began on July 9.

Pang Khunthy, a representative of the Akeentex workers, said authorities came to the factory on Thursday to tell the workers about the injunction, saying that employees who did not return to work within 48 hours would be fired.

“The court is doing wrong, it is not following the process,” she said.

Ms. Khunthy said the court did not examine their side of the dispute, and that the workers were not informed when the injunction was officially issued.

Judge Maren could not be reached Monday and a factory official declined to comment. A Puma representative has previously said that the case would be sent to the Arbitration Council in the hope that a resolution would be found.

“Puma should help us pressure the factory. If Puma does not help, we will bring a petition to the Singaporean Embassy,” said Soun Sotheary, another representative of the workers.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents factories in the country, on Monday released a statement slamming CUMW for supporting the workers’ call for their five-year “unlimited” contracts be replaced with one-year “limited” contracts.

“GMAC condemns the union leaders leading the strike without respecting legal procedures in demanding limited contracts instead of unlimited contracts,” the statement said.

kimsay@cambodiadaily.com

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