Up to 415 Cambodian factory workers have been sacked for striking

Up to 415 Cambodian factory workers have been sacked for striking

Protests are continuing over the mass sacking in Cambodia of striking workers who make garments for companies including Nike, Lululemon Athletica and Wilson Sports Apparel.

The IndustriAll Global Union, which says it is working with Nike to intervene in the dispute at the Sabrina factory, claims up to 415 workers have been sacked.

But Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), today (17 June) told just-style the figure is much lower.

"65 workers were dismissed for serious misconduct including participation in acts of violence resulting in property damage," he said, adding that "another 77 workers also had their employment terminated for a variety of other reasons including resignations, expiry of employment contracts, etc."

The union said that as well as the mass sacking at the factory in Kampong Speu province, west of Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, arrest warrants had been issued for 16 workers identified by management as being instrumental in the industrial dispute.

Of these, eight had been arrested and were in prison, while the other eight were in hiding, IndustriAll said – with hundreds of workers at the factory gates demanding their release.

The dispute centres on claims that management had reneged on an agreement to improve employment conditions at the factory, leading local union the FTUWKC to demand a US$14 a month pay increase and for temporary workers to be given the same rights as permanent employees.

When these claims were not met, two seven-day strikes were called from 21 May and 3 June, with some 4,000 out of the total 5,300 workforce claimed to have taken part.

The union is calling for the immediate release of the arrested workers, a settlement of the dispute, justice for the pregnant women and the reinstatement of the sacked workers.

It also demanded that the Sabrina management “enter into good faith dialogue and positive industrial relations going forward”, adding: “It is IndustriAll’s expectation that Nike, Wilson and Lululemon strongly intervene to ensure these demands are met."

Loo added that while the strike is ongoing, more than 95% of workers have returned to work and fewer than 100 workers are still protesting.