PHNOM PENH —
A Phnom Penh garment factory has refused to reinstate 10 workers it suspended over a strike held to protest the company’s refusal to allow workers time off to vote in the recent commune elections.
The Southland factory suspended 10 members of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) after they protested the decision, according to an industry association.
Phorn Mai, an official at the labor ministry's intervention office, said the government had sought a solution to the dispute, but the factory had declined to negotiate with the workers.
“If I continued to try, I would be wasting your time,” he said.
Mai told union representatives and workers that he would make another attempt to bring the sides together in a letter to the factory on Monday.
He added that if the factory refused to pay the workers their salaries in the meantime they could file a complaint to the ministry. “Please take a rest and wait for Monday,” he said.
Workers on Friday protested at the factory and said they would not return to work unless their colleagues were reinstated.
Lanh Phirum, CUMW representative at the Southland factory, told reporters that its members would continue to “resist” and backing down was not an option.
Southland representatives could not be reached for comment.
The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) issued a statement accusing the suspended workers of having “committed a serious mistake by turning off the electricity and instigating workers to stop working.”
It claimed that the CUMW chapter at the Southland factory was not registered with the government and therefore their actions were illegal.
However, Pav Sina, CUMW president, denied the claim, saying GMAC had a poor history of supporting workers’ rights.
“When factories close or employers run away without paying workers, why doesn’t GMAC tell its members to follow the law then?”