Workers Protest Firing of Union Members

More than 500 MSI Garment workers staged a strike Sunday and Monday to protest the factory owner’s alleged plans to fire 350 workers—prompting military police to intervene, union officials said Tuesday.

Morm Nhim, president of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, said ap­proximately 1,600 workers went on strike to demand that the factory owner justify his firing of at least 22 union members and respond to rumors that more than 300 others were targeted for dismissal.

The union leader said the work­ers were chased Monday by several soldiers as they were demonstrating in front of the factory in Dangkao district.

She said that intervention po­lice made ap­pearances Tuesday to intimidate workers.

District Penal Police Chief Lim Ouk said the number of strikers was closer to 500.

He said they demonstrated to demand im­proved working conditions.

Choun Mom Thol, president of a second union, the Cambodian Union Federation, said the striking workers needed to “understand the factory’s crisis.”

He said MSI planned to lay off about 350 workers because it was waiting for an order to arrive in April. “It is not firing [the workers],” he said, adding that the “laid off” laborers likely would be rehired with top priority once they were needed.

Chan Dara, an official with the Gar­ment Manu­facturers Associ­ation in Cambo­dia, said union members and factory management reached an agreement Tuesday afternoon. He said eight workers were reinstated, while 15 others accepted compensatory pay.

MSI manager Poby Chan was not available for comment Tues­day.

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