Factory allegedly hires thugs to hurt strikers

blogspot.com 22-May-2012

About 1,500 workers from SL Garment Processing (Cambodia)’s SL1 and SL2 factories in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district march to the Ministry of Social Affairs yesterday. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Chhay Channyda
The Phnom Penh Post

A garment factory in the capital’s Meanchey district yesterday denied hiring a group of 10 “gangsters” to beat and injure workers as they protested.

Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) official Ney Bunthoeun said a gang of thugs hired by Haiyun garment factory bosses injured a union official and a worker as 500 employees lobbied to have six C.CAWDU representatives reinstated.

“They dismissed our union factory leaders. They don’t want C.CAWDU to be created in the factory, so workers went on strike on May 17,” he said, adding he had been attacked and another worker had been hit in the head with a walkie-talkie.

An administration worker at the factory, who did not give her name, denied management had hired any “gangsters”.

“It is a problem between workers from one union and workers from another union. The employer wants to solve the problem,” she said.

Meanwhile, more than 1,500 workers from nearby SL Garment factories marched to the Ministry of Social Affairs yesterday to seek intervention after their employer again rejected their demands.

Workers from SL1 and SL2 factories, both owned by SL Garment Processing (Cambodia), began striking on May 12, asking for a $15 per-month rental allowance, $10 transportation allowance and other things, including the reinstatement of a union official.

C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn said about 20 worker representatives had met with Ministry of Social Affairs secretary of state Soy Siphon.

The minister had agreed to help resolve the dispute by asking the factory’s owner, workers and government officials to meet this morning, according to Ath Thorn.

Phnom Penh municipal court issued a decision on Friday that ordered striking workers back to work and warned 23 representatives, including three members of C.CAWDU, that they faced legal action if they led a strike, he said.

“C.CAWDU did not make any disturbance, but just helped find a solution.”

Ea Chip Ieng, personnel manager at the factory, said management would not negotiate.

“The strike is in defiance of the law, because the union did not inform us beforehand,” he said.