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Capital workers protest over withheld factory wages

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Garment workers stage a protest over unpaid wages in Kandal province last November. Pha Lina

Capital workers protest over withheld factory wages

Around 100 workers protested outside their factory in the capital over unpaid wages on Monday. They blocked a road for an hour after the company owner allegedly committed suicide following the factory’s shutdown.

A 26-year-old worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said the Julee Apparel factory in Por Sen Chey district’s Kakab commune had stopped operating since August 1 and had not paid the workers’ July wages.

“We want our wages. We’ve been promised that we’d receive it, but we haven’t seen anyone coming forth to deal with us.

“We don’t know what to do. We need to pay the rent and we need money for food. We’ve heard the new owners would come but we’ve never seen them. We would still be working at the factory if there is a new owner,” he said.

Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) program coordinator Khun Tharo said the factory was a sub-contractor for Kie & Kie World Co Ltd, a supplier for Primark. He said it should not have been shuttered following the owner’s death.

“The board of directors must nominate a person to handle the matter and continue operating the factory. If they can’t find a replacement, they cannot just place the burden on the Ministry of Labour. The company must compensate the workers according to the law.”

Tharo also called for a thorough investigation. “I think there’s a need for a probe into the owner’s death, whether it’s caused by bankruptcy or if the company legally operated. We’re investigating as well,” he said.

Ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment on Monday.

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