Workers at South Korean Firm Strike Over Demotions

More than 40 employees at a South Korean firm in Phnom Penh continued a two-week-old strike Tuesday over their demotions earlier in the month and have started to protest, the workers and company said.

Carrying flags, banners and photos of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the 41 workers gathered in front of the Prek Pnov district headquarters of KTC Cable Co., Ltd., which manufactures electrical cables and wires.

According to the workers and a representative of the Cambodian Worker Union Federation, the strike began on April 7 after a series of demotions.

Sok Choeun, 32, a factory employee and union member, said the company told the workers in early April that they would be moved from producing cables to working as gardeners, cleaners or guards.

“I cannot accept this because I am a skilled worker but the company moved me to become a gardener,” he said.

Mr. Choeun, who has been employed at the company for eight years, said he believed management demoted the workers to pressure them into quitting so that it would not have to pay them severance.

“The company wants us to quit because it does not have enough money to provide for the workers,” he said. “So, they played a trick like that to make us run out of patience to work there and give up the job.”

Sok Sam Oeun, the company’s administrative director, said the workers were moved to new positions because the company was having to downsize.

“We are unable to keep them working in that field because there are much fewer jobs,” he said.

He denied the company was trying to pressure them into quitting.

“It is their right to strike or protest, but do not do damage to company property,” he said before hanging up on a reporter.

Pang Channy, the union president, said the workers would not stop protesting until the company resolves the dispute, ideally by giving them their old jobs back.

“If there is no resolution, all those workers will march to the municipal labor department or the Ministry of Labor to demand intervention,” he said.

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