Authorities blocked more than 500 striking garment workers from marching on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Phnom Penh on Monday as part of a protest for better pay and working conditions.
About 50 police officers and Meanchey district security guards prevented workers from the M&V International Manufacturing factory from marching across the Kbal Thnal overpass toward the city center at around 9 a.m.
After the standoff, workers then boarded trucks and tuk-tuks at about 11 a.m. and made their way to the Labor Ministry in Tuol Kok district, where representatives were refused a meeting with officials.
Dy Rothkhenrum, deputy governor of Meanchey, said he led forces to block the protesting workers as they had not requested permission from municipal authorities for their march.
“It does not mean we do not want them marching, but it is not good because it affected public order,” he said.
Roughly 2,000 workers staged a mass walkout at the factory, which supplies clothes to global fashion retailer H&M, on May 19 to ask their management to address 17 demands, including giving them a raise in their monthly transport allowance to $15 and a $1 daily lunch allowance. They returned to the factory on June 2 on the municipal court’s orders, but left their stations again on June 4 as negotiations stalled.
On Friday, representatives for more than 2,000 striking workers marched to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court asking that it revoke an injunction ordering them back to work.
Mr. Rothkhenrum said negotiations between union and factory representatives would resume at the factory today.
Khoen Namhor, vice president of the Cambodia Federation Voices of Workers union, warned that workers would attempt to march to the prime minister’s residence again if their demands are not met.
“I want Samdech Decho Hun Sen to intervene to find a resolution for our workers, because after two weeks already we have got no result,” Mr. Namhor said.
“We will continue marching again if we have no better resolution,” he added.