Hundreds conduct factory walkout over working conditions

Nearly 200 garment factory workers resigned yesterday after their representatives failed to reach an agreement with employers over workers’ rights.

The workers had been on strike for five days before they decided to quit.

According to a statement from the workers yesterday, Xin Jia Da Fashion in Por Senchey district employed about three hundred people.

They said the factory owner violated 12 points stipulated by the Labour Law, including by forcing pregnant women to wear trousers during working hours and failing to adequately compensate overtime.

They noted that the 200 workers began to strike in front of their factory on Friday after their representatives and employers failed to reach a deal.

Va Sreyleak, a representative, yesterday said Labour Ministry officials took part in the negotiation process, but their presence yielded no results.

“Workers demanded the company address the demands, but this was rejected by the owner,” Ms Sreyleak said.

She noted that about 200 people have resigned and that more will follow because they are not convinced that the factory owner will implement the main demand, which is to pay overtime.

“They [managers] always used inappropriate language when talking to them,” Ms Sreyleak said. “They would curse us if we clocked in late and they never praised us when we worked hard.”

“The company always forced us to work overtime, we couldn’t refuse and they would never pay us for overtime,” she added. “They paid us 1,000 riels [$0.25] per hour, and this was not enough to support ourselves and our families, so we demanded a 500 riel increase per hour, but they refused.”

Representatives of Xin Jia Da Fashion could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Mom Seak, president of the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit, yesterday said workers should report all unfavourable working conditions to government officials, adding that it’s compulsory to provide better conditions to pregnant women.

“Owners should respect the Labour Law and other related regulations,” Ms Seak said. “They can’t fire pregnant women because it’s against regulations, and it’s inhuman.”

“Pregnant women are protected by the law and shall receive sufficient health assistance,” she added.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Moeun Tola, executive director of the Centre for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights, yesterday said the Labour Ministry must take action against any party found guilty of violating Labour Laws.

“Workers can work overtime voluntarily,” Mr Tola said. “They should not be forced or be paid less than what the law states.”

“Factory owners should be more knowledgeable about the law,” he added, noting that the Labour Ministry should conduct an investigation over the allegations made by the former Xin Jia Da Fashion workers.


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