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Mass Firings Follow Garment Factory Demonstration

A Cambodian garment worker speaks on a loud speaker as she leads a strike in front of a factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, file photo.
PHNOM PENH - A garment factory in Kampong Speu province fired 300 of its workers on Wednesday, following demonstrations this month demanding higher salaries.

Workers at the Sabrina Cambodia Garment Manufacturing factory were asking for a salary increase to $74 per month, $14 more than the minimum wage.

The mass firing is believed one of the nation’s largest layoffs and underscores the difficulties of workers in the sector, which provides clothing and shoes to major US and European outlets and employs hundreds of thousands of Cambodians.

At least 10 workers were injured in clashes during a series of protests earlier this month that saw as many as 5,000 workers participating.

Some union leaders say the firings represent an effort to stifle protest.

“It is threatening the workers,” said Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union.

However, Choun Mom Thol, head of the Cambodian Union Federation, said companies do have the right to fire workers if protests are violent.

Officials at the Ministry of Labor say they are looking into the matter.