Workers Say Guard Threatened to Shoot Them

The fate of up to 10 workers at the In Fong Cambodia Garment Co Ltd remained uncertain Sunday after an incident in which a security guard allegedly pulled a gun on one of them.

Company officials could not be reached Sunday for comment, but Kao Poeun, an investigator with the Cambodian Labor Orga­ni­zation, said workers told him that the incident began about 2:15 pm Thursday, when a worker named Sreng Sovan was criticized by a supervisor for poor work.

The supervisor told Sreng Sovan to thumbprint a document admitting he had performed poorly, but Sreng Sovan refused. The supervisor then called security.

A second worker, So Pheak, tried to intervene, telling the security officer he had no business inter­fering in a work dispute. The officer told So Pheak he would handcuff and shoot him.

A third worker, Nan Than, told the supervisor he would organize a large group of workers to protest, saying: “One handcuff cannot tie 30 workers.” The security officer left and work resumed.

At the 6 pm dinner break, however, as the workers walked to the factory gates, the security officer pulled a gun on Nan Than. He fled into a group of workers, all of whom scattered. Some workers reported the incident to military police.

The next morning, So Pheak contacted Kao Poeun at the CLO, saying 10 workers were afraid to go to work. Kao Poeun visited the factory, spoke with the owners, and compiled a complaint letter for police, thumbprinted by the 10 workers.

He did not deliver the letter to police, however, because at     9:30 am four military police officers, responding to the complaint from the previous evening, arrived at the factory.

After speaking with the workers and management, the police confiscated the gun from the security guard.

“The workers are still very worried that the security officer will use a gun again,” Kao Poeun said.

The plant manager asked Kao Poeun if he had the right to fire the 10 workers, and Kao Poeun said no. The manager said he would decide whether to fire Sreng Sovan and Nan Than, but could not be reached Sunday for comment.

As of Sunday afternoon, no one had been fired, Kao Poeun said.

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