A protest by more than 100 of 300 Prestige Garment Co garment workers in front of their factory in Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district’s Tbeng commune, the result of their representative being dismissed, entered its second day on Tuesday.
The sacking allegedly happened after the representative, Huon Sovith, submitted documents to the Department of Labour and Vocational Training in Kandal to form a union. Sovith was voted by garment works to become their representative on Thursday.
“I knew there was no union at the factory, and I want to protect workers. I prepared the documents to request the forming of a union. Because they knew what I was doing, that is why they fired me."
“I asked for reasons why they [the factory] stopped my employment and what mistakes I made. They said there was no reason. The workers support me because I serve their interests,” he said, before citing a catalogue of complaints.
He said the factory workers are forced to work overtime, begin working before their allotted start time, and face difficulty when requesting leave.
The factory had not registered as a member of the National Social Security Fund, so the workers pushed management to register so that when they were sick they could get free medical treatment.
“Even when workers need to go to the toilet, they need to tell the line manager,” he said.
No Prestige Garment factory representative could be reached for comment.
Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour, the president of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) Ken Loo, and its secretary-general Kang Monika could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
The provincial director at the Department of Labour and Vocational Training Thul Neang said he had not received any information and was not aware of the protest.
“I will assign an official to go to the factory tomorrow. Workers can file complaints with us and we will solve the issue based on legal procedures. We will investigate the case,” he said.
Sin Raksmey, 33, said she started working for the factory in August and had joined the protest because the factory needed workers’ representatives to improve conditions.
“When my child is sick, they don’t allow me to take leave. They said it is a family issue, so I asked him [Sovith] to talk with the factory and as a result, they allowed me too,” she said.