Workers Take Pay Dispute to Ministry of Labor

Hundreds of garment workers traveled from a Kompong Chhnang factory to Phnom Penh on Monday to petition the Ministry of Labor to intervene in their dispute with factory management.

About 3,000 workers from the Chinese-owned Jiun Ye Garment factory have been striking since August 18, accusing management of deliberately withholding their monthly bonuses from their last paychecks.

The factory says underpayment is the result of a technical error and has promised to include the missing funds in the workers’ salaries next month.

Over the weekend, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) released a statement condemning the industrial action and calling on authorities to “punish the perpetrators.”

About 500 striking workers traveled from their factory in Samakki Meanchey district along National Road 5—which they have blocked on several occasions as part of their protests—to the Ministry of Labor’s headquarters in Tuol Kok.

They met up with representatives from the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit after leaving Kompong Chhnang to avoid provincial police, who union leaders feared would arrest them.

Vong Sovann, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Labor’s general department of labor conflict, said he received 10 union representatives Monday afternoon and accepted their petition.

“However, there was no solution because the factory did not take part [in the meeting],” he said.

“Tomorrow [Tuesday], we will send officials from the Ministry of Labor to the factory to negotiate with both sides to find a better solution as soon as possible.”

Suos Sokha, the secretary of KUFWS, said the union had agreed to attend the talks, but it was still unclear if the factory would participate. Representatives of Jiun Ye could not be reached.

Nuon Vanny, an 18-year-old garment worker, said she and her colleagues had resorted to lobbying national authorities because provincial officials had failed to solve their dispute.

“We didn’t want to pay 10,000 riel to travel here, but we had no choice because previous attempts to find a solution got no results,” she said.

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