About 1,000 workers at what is known as Phnom Penh’s largest factory complex went on strike Monday to protest a planned move of the facilities.
The new factory is built on an isolated rice paddy about 5 km off the road to Pochentong Airport, striking factory workers said. The current factory, MS International, is in Russei Keo district.
Workers complained that there is neither housing nor commerce near the new site. They said they were told of the move only last week and had been expected to show up at the new factory on Monday.
“It’s hard to travel there because it’s at an isolated site,” said worker Eam Yeam. “I’m afraid that we will get robbed when we pick up our salaries.”
A factory administrator who declined to be named said the factory will transport workers to and from the new site for a month while workers look for new housing. The new factory is only 2 km from the airport road, he said. As for commerce, he said food vendors will come to fulfill demand when the new factory opens.
The new site is run by a business partner of the Korean company that is owned by MS International and its neighbor across the street, Sam Han. Together, the two factories employ about 10,000 people, factory workers said.
Instead of going to the new factory, the workers at MS struck and submitted a list of demands. They demanded that the factory build housing, provide food and guarantee no change in working conditions. Workers who quit rather than move to the new site should be compensated, according to the list of demands.
“When they move, everything will change, and the workers will need new [ID] cards,” said union shop steward Sam Tola. “We fear conditions will change.” The move could also weaken union organizing efforts, he said.
“It seems they want to sell us. The boss will be different,” said Eam Yeam.
Worker representatives, management and Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor officials were meeting Monday afternoon in an attempt to resolve the dispute.