Workers’ March Blocked in Ocean Factory Dispute

About 800 striking workers from the Ocean Garment Factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district were prevented from protesting outside the Labor Ministry on Tuesday, with later discussions between workers and factory owners yielding no results, according to union representatives.

The factory suspended work between May 26 and June 26 after orders had dried up from a number of labels including Gap, with its workers demanding half their regular salary during that time period. The factory’s bosses have offered only $15 for the month.

The group of workers set off from the factory Tuesday at about 7:30 a.m., before being stopped by police only a kilometer away.

“There can be no march because of issues with security and traffic. We therefore ask you to go back to your factory,” Hem Darith, the district governor of Pur Senchey district, told the protesters.

After a half-hour standoff with police, the workers returned to the factory as representatives held discussions with factory bosses to no avail.

“We are waiting for the factory’s response to decide how much to pay them during the suspension; [the owners] say they are waiting for an answer from their boss in Bangladesh,” said Huon Vanna, a representative from the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

Another meeting has been set for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Mr. Vanna confirmed.

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