Workers Continue Protest Over Conditions

Approximately 200 work­ers at a shoe factory in Toul Kok district stay­­ed on strike for a third day Friday to pro­test an increase in workload which they say is beyond their capabilities.

The strike follows a re­­cent decision at the Ming Ta shoe factory re­quiring each worker in the sewing department to increase the number of shoes they hand-sew each day to 12 pairs.

Strikers outside the fac­tory Friday claimed that most workers are being forced to produce 16 pairs of shoes a day.

So far 70 workers have been fired for not being able to comply with the new quotas, and the sew­ing staff fear more people will lose their jobs, 20-year-old striker Mam Sovann said Friday.

According to Mam So­vann, the factory has re­cently been taken over by Taiwanese man­age­ment, and factory workers are forced to work almost 14 hours a day to reach the new quota. He said workers can produce be­tween six and eight pairs of shoes in a normal eight-hour shift.

Other strikers complained of deplorable working conditions and being forced to work seven days a week without holidays.

Management at the shoe factory Friday sent a message through a guard that they were too busy to talk about the strike or conditions at the factory.

Pao Sopheap, 24, said that her first day off in almost a year working at the factory was during last week’s Pchum Ben Festival.

“The factory is very bad. It’s dull, stuffy, hot, and there is a nasty smell of paint and glue.

“[Managers] are very strict about rules. Every time we go to the toilet, it is noted and the time cut back from our overtime,” Pao Sopheap said.

Norn Srey Neang said her only time off in two years was sick leave.

Chea Vichea, head of the Free Trade Union of Workers, said  that management has refused to talk with the union.

The owners of the factory say they will negotiate, but only with female strikers, Chea Vichea added.

Huot Chanthy, acting director of the department of labor inspections at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Train­ing and Youth Rehabilitation, confirmed the new Taiwanese management will only negotiate with female strikers.

Both sides have been invited to a meeting at the ministry on Mon­day, Huot Chanthy said.





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