Canteran Garment Factory Workers Take Dispute to Labor Ministry

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Workers from Canteran Apparel protest outside the Labor Ministry on May 23, 2022. (Hean Rangsey/VOD)

Workers demanding legal compensation from a shuttered garment factory gathered outside the Labor Ministry on Monday to file a petition seeking its intervention.

The workers, from Canteran Apparel in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, have been protesting and taking turns sleeping in front of the factory for nearly a month to prevent management from removing valuable equipment without paying them compensation first.

The petition said Canteran and nearby Quality Textiles had the same general manager, Choong Wei Piau, and alleged that Canteran was moving its assets to Quality Textiles. Reached on Tuesday, however, Choong said he had resigned in January and did not know about the situation or who had replaced him.

Sann Sopha, union president at Canteran, said the factory had shuttered without notice, and owed workers compensation. Pur Senchey district officials had promised to help, but workers had camped outside the factory for a month and there was no progress, said Sopha, a 22-year veteran at Canteran.

“Don’t allow the boss to avoid responsibility, and make the Cambodian workers victims,” she said. “We do not demand anything more than the law says.”

Yin Savonn, a 50-year-old who worked at Canteran for eight years, said the factory’s failure to pay compensation had made their lives difficult. “They ran away,” Savonn said.

Labor Ministry deputy secretary-general Vong Sovann said the ministry had received the petition and would summon stakeholders this week.

Canteran employed around 1,000 workers before its closure, and about 300 continue to protest. The Garments Manufacturers Association in Cambodia says Quality Textiles employs around 750 in producing sleepwear.

Additional reporting by Phin Rathana

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