2,000 Factory Workers Protest to Stay Home Amid Outbreak Fears: Kampong Cham

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Workers who had missed work over the Khmer New Year holiday attend a health clinic in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on April 20, 2020. (Chorn Chanren/VOD)

About 2,000 factory workers blocked National Road 6 over the weekend in Kampong Cham province, asking that they be given Covid-19 tests, be allowed to quarantine at home, and be paid 50 percent of their wages, according to provincial officials.

A small handful of positive Covid-19 tests at a factory along the road have caused fears among others working nearby, said Kampong Cham labor department director Cheng Heang.

It was an echo of a similar protest in Kandal province last week, when 500 workers rallied to be allowed to stay home after 30 positive Covid-19 cases were found at their factory.

Heang said the 2,000 Kampong Cham protesters wanted rapid Covid-19 tests and 14-day home quarantine. “Now we have done the rapid tests for all of them,” Heang said.

Positive patients would be sent to treatment centers and direct contacts to quarantine facilities, with the factory paying 50 percent of their wages. One factory where four Covid-19 cases were found was closed for two days pending a health assessment, he said.

However, Phdav Chum commune police chief Von Ravy said workers at factory buildings that did not have Covid-19 cases would be going to work.

Twenty-four people tested positive from the 2,000 rapid tests over the weekend, he added. The first cases were found at the Carlington factory, he said, which the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia lists as a shoe factory employing nearly 8,000 workers.

Workers from the nearby Valong factory — which has about 2,000 employees — and three other factories participated in the protest, Ravy said.

The country has seen over 30,000 Covid-19 cases as of Monday, according to the Health Ministry. Some 690 new cases were announced, the most since May 4. An increasing number of cases have been found outside Phnom Penh. The capital formerly recorded the vast majority of cases in the February 20 outbreak.

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