Garment protest continues

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Workers from the Gawon Apparel garment factory strike over unpaid wages last December, blocking a road in Kandal province’s Takhmao town. Pha Lina

Workers at a South Korean-owned garment factory are contining to protest for their March salary after the company abruptly shut down operations last month.

Dai Young (Cambodia), located in the capital’s Russey Keo district and which has Park Soo-suk listed as general manager, unexpectedly shut down last month, leaving employees to wonder if they will receive back pay and severance owed to them.

For Hen Souphea, the president of the Cambodian Coalition Apparel of Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) for the Dai Young factory, the closure of Dai Young came with no warning.

“Before the announcement of the work suspension on March 30, we were working normally, and the factory always had a lot of work for us. Our operations were never suspended due to a lack of work,” he said.

Souphea believes that the owners, who had bought a new factory since Dai Young opened in 2003, have since favoured new business over their factory.

“Dai Young has been open since 2003, and we never lacked work, not even one time. But a few years ago the managers began sending more work to their new factory on National Road 4, and they began introducing representatives of fashion brands to the new factory, Tea Young. And so it made it look like Dai Young was bankrupt, while the sister factory operates normally,” he said.

The workers and unions decided to continue to protest for as long as it takes to receive what is due to them, with possible plans to unite with the employees of two other Korean-owned factories for a bigger protest in front of the Ministry of Labour.

Those other factories – Gawon Apparel, located in Takmao city in Kandal province, and First Gawon Apparel, in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district – are both owned by Cha Kyeong Hee. Cha has been accused of withholding wages since December and recently locked employees out of the factory.

Dai Young (Cambodia) and Tea Young (Cambodia) supply Jacques Moret Inc, Carole Hochman, Design Group Inc, Dillards Inc, One Step Up Ctd, JJ Basics Llc, Leeward International Inc, Target Corporation and Swimsuit Commission Corp.

Heng Sour, spokesman for Ministry of Labour, and Preap Len, who is listed as head of human resources for Dai Young, could not be reached for comment.