Production at three garment factories was stunted Thursday when workers in one factory fainted, and workers from the two others staged strikes, officials said.
Nearly 30 local police watched as more than 200 Terratex Knitting and Garment International Factory Ltd employees staged a strike outside the Meanchey district facility Thursday while representatives from the factory and workers union stated their cases with the Ministry of Labor, Chak Angre Leu commune Police Chief Chea Sokhaiy said.
More than 500 workers, angry with their manager’s alleged abuse of the labor law and anti-union discrimination, walked up National Route 2 Wednesday on the way to the Commerce Ministry, where they planned to ask for help reinstating fired union members and attaining fair salaries and overtime.
Approximately 200 Intervention Police dispersed the gathering. Factory manager Jimmy Sum said his company abides by the labor law.
The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee condemned the show of police force in a statement Thursday, calling the action a violation of the Constitution.
Sum and Morm Nhim, president of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, were physically forced to turn their heads and smile at each other after refusing to negotiate for most of the day, Labor Ministry inspector Im Khmemara said. He said the pair returned to the factory late Thursday to negotiate the dispute.
Meanwhile, workers at the YGM (Cambodia) Ltd in Russei Keo district went on strike Thursday over the departure of a popular manager. Most of the factory’s 2,000 workers broke into “mass hysteria” when general manager, Lawrence Chung, announced he would stop working to nurse his ailing health, said Peter Chan, director of YGM’s Hong Kong parent company.
Representatives from the US Embassy and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia looked on as crying workers blocked Chung from entering his car and demanded that he stay, Chan said.
“He is a good man. He helped the workers when they were sick and sent them to the hospital,” workers’ union President Yang Phany said.
Chan said the workers’ emotional behavior was worrying and did not bode well for an industry on the verge of losing its garment quota in 2005.
“The cost [of production] here is not low, and efficiency is not high. The reason we’re here is for the quota,” Chan said, adding that workers’ excessive demands could affect an investor’s willingness to stay.
At the Great Lancelot International Co Ltd factory Thursday 78 employees fainted due to a lack of fresh air, Dangkao district Deputy Police Chief Lim Ouk said. Workers at the factory fell unconscious after breathing fumes from chemically treated cloth, said Dr Seng Veng of the Chantra Vuth hospital.