Three workers’ representatives from a Kampong Speu bag factory filed a complaint to the Labor Ministry, alleging their termination was an act of union-busting.
The fired workers — Sroeu Neang, Muon Samok and Bou Rath — asked Labor Minister Ith Samheng to urge Cinlon International, a bag-manufacturing factory in Kampong Speu’s Kong Pisey district, to rehire and compensate them, after they were fired for forming a new union in the factory.
The workers said they were fired in June, days after trying to form the Khmer Workers’ Rights Union. In July, the Labor Ministry’s labor dispute department issued a letter to the factory urging the owner to rehire the workers and compensate them for the period they were fired.
The workers then submitted a second complaint to the labor dispute department on November 15, saying Cinlon had yet to comply with the department’s first letter.
Neang, one of the fired workers, said she and the others decided to organize the new union after noticing patterns of exploitation by the factory. Their employer had not given them access to the National Social Security Fund or maternity payments, she said, and that the employer did not take into account exchange rate fluctuations when paying their salaries.
“Firing us is discrimination against the union,” she said, reiterating that she urged the minister to intervene.
Neang said the company makes bags for California-based brand CleverMade, and according to the Commerce Ministry’s corporate database, its sole director is Wang Longjun, a Chinese national.
When asked about the case, Labor Ministry spokesperson Heng Sour said the Kampong Speu provincial labor department had inspected the case, and the ministry’s labor dispute department would work with their provincial counterparts to investigate the accusations.
Touch Sophoan, head of Cinlon’s administration, could not be reached for comment. Sophoan previously denied the accusation of union-busting, saying the workers were fired because the factory did not get enough orders to keep them employed.
Ry Sethynet, the president of the Independent Trade Union Confederation, said other factories have committed similar acts of union-busting and that this type of discrimination against workers was illegal under Cambodian law.