Unions Claim Garment Factory Fired 1,200 Workers for Strike

Unionists claimed about 1,200 striking workers at Kandal province’s Now Corp. garment factory were fired when they went to collect their salaries Tuesday, but the company rejected the claims, saying the workers are still employed.

Workers at the Cambodian-South Korean owned factory in Ang Snuol district, led by the Workers Friendship Union Federation (WFUF) and the National Trade Union Coalition (NTUC), have been striking since December 1.

Factory management agreed to eight of their 12 demands but have refused to concede the remaining points, including a $1 daily lunch allowance.

NTUC president Far Saly said the factory fired the 1,200 striking workers after paying last month’s salaries to the 1,800 total workers employed at the factory.

“Today, the factory agreed to pay them their salary for November, and then fired them from their work because they have been striking to demand benefits,” Mr. Saly said.

“The factory is in serious violation of the labor law because they fired workers who are striking without [paying them] severance pay,” he added.

Now Corp. assistant administrative director Meth Veasna rejected the claims, saying the workers had not lost their jobs.

“The accusation from the unions and workers are not true because our bosses are still considering their demands,” he said. “This is a matter raised by the unions and workers to turn the factory into chaos.”

“Our managers respect the labor law,” Mr. Veasna added. “We understand that the unions are inciting the workers to make demands that the factory cannot accept.”

Yet WFUF factory representative and worker Phuong Leakhena, 30, said it was clear that the striking workers had been let go from the Now Corp. factory.

“After we received our salary for November, the factory’s administrative officials took our [employee] ID cards because we are striking with the unions,” Ms. Leakhena said.

“The factory took our ID cards, and that means they fired us,” she added. “If the factory does not give our ID cards back, the workers could make some violence.”

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