Canteran Factory Workers Keep Up Protest Four Months Later

2 min read
Canteran Apparel workers protest outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on August 8, 2022. (Hean Rangsey/VOD)

Garment factory workers filed a fresh petition to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court this week as they continue to camp out every night on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Blvd. four months into their labor dispute.

Canteran Apparel, in Pur Senchey district’s Choam Chao I commune, shuttered earlier this year leaving workers allegedly without compensation. Around 200 workers have taken turns camping out in front of the factory, saying management could try to remove equipment for its own benefit rather than sell it to pay them.

Sann Sopha, the factory’s union deputy, said the court issued an order on August 3 to temporarily seize the factory’s equipment, but the workers wanted to see a similar court order for the factory’s building and grounds.

So the workers gathered at the court, and were told to file a legal appeal instead. But the workers would continue to protest to government and judicial institutions seeking justice, Sopha said.

“We are suffering and receiving injustice,” she said. “We do not have the money to pay for the rent, sleeping in a tent, sleeping in front of the factory, in the sun and in the rain.”

Prum Bunthein, an official from the Confederation of Cambodian Workers Movement, said the workers were owed a total of around $700,000-$800,000 in compensation.

Court spokesman Y Rin could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The Canteran factory was owned by struggling Malaysian firm Jerasia.

Sopha, the union deputy, said the 200 protesting workers took turns to camp outside the factory, with around 30-40 people stationed there during the day and 10-20 through the night.

“I am staying in a tent right now with 20 other people,” Sopha said on Tuesday. “If no parties come to intervene or find a solution for us, we will continue to camp here until there is an acceptable solution.”

Another worker, Khun Savin, said the prolonged dispute was taking its toll on her.

“The company should give me compensation for the work I did for it for the past 10 years,” Savin said. “I am a widow, so I need to take on the role of both father and as a mother. I owe debt, it affects my emotions, I cannot sleep, I’m afraid that they will seize my house, I haven’t been staying home.”

“Every day, I work washing dishes, earn one time, eat one time. It is suffering every day.”

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