Former employees of the defunct Chung Fai Knitwear factory blocked National Road 2 for an hour yesterday morning in the hope of getting the attention of authorities.
The workers have been demonstrating at spots across the capital for more than seven months since the Chinese owner of their factory fled without paying their wages, bonuses and severance packages.
Khoeun Chanthorn, a 34-year-old representative for the workers, told Khmer Times yesterday that between 60 and 70 workers attended the protest.
They decided to block the road because the government refused to heed their calls for assistance.
“We know that blocking a public road is illegal, but we have no choice any more because it has been seven months already and our case has not been solved. The relevant officials have not paid attention to our problem,” she said.
The protesting garment workers have asked the government for assistance in tracking down the factory owner, selling off the remaining goods in the factory to pay them some amount of their owed wages, or forcing UK conglomerate Marks & Spencer – which used Chung Fai as a supplier – to pay them.
Their attempt to file a court case legally requiring the government to sell off the factory’s property became bogged down when the court demanded the women pay a 4 million riel (about $1,000) processing fee, which they were unable to do.
Since their factory closed, many of the women who relied on their pay to support themselves and their families have fallen into dire circumstances.
At least one worker has died and another attempted suicide since they lost their jobs in July last year.
Ms. Chanthorn said the workers blocked the road from 7:30am to nearly 8:30am before drivers began to yell at them for causing a traffic jam.
She added that they will continue to protest in front of Phnom Penh Tower, home of the offices of Marks & Spencer, and may march to the Prime Minister’s house as well.
“We decided to block the road because we want to appeal to relevant officials so they know and intervene in our case as fast as possible,” she said.
“We are sorry to do this, but we have no other choice.”
Source: Khmer Times