Svay Rieng Garment Factory Suspends 2,000 Workers

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A garment worker checks pants in a factory in Cambodia on December 9, 2014 (ILO)
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More than 2,000 garment workers have been suspended from a factory in Svay Rieng province for two months, with the company saying it cut employees because the factory had received no orders from buyers amid the Covid-19 economic downturn.

Pum Sokunthy, deputy president of the local chapter of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said You Li International (Cambodia) Garment in Bavet City suspended the workers from May 1 to June 30. 

Sokunthy told VOD on Wednesday that the workers were told by factory representatives that they would receive $70 per month in line with a government directive, with $30 provided by the factory owner.

“We will see a lot of impacts because [workers’] incomes during this suspension period are too little,” he said. “It’s not enough to support a family. So, [workers] are complaining so much about this and some have [already] borrowed money from banks.”

Garment workers typically earn a monthly minimum wage of $190. But declining international consumer demand during the global Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many buyers canceling and not placing new orders with manufacturers in garment-exporting nations like Cambodia.

This year, more than 150,000 garment workers have been suspended due to production cuts at 180 factories in Cambodia, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said. The sector employs some 800,000 workers, who are mostly women.

You Li’s administrative chief Sek Buntheoun told VOD that the factory also decided not to renew 200 workers’ contracts, which expired last week, in addition to the 2,000 suspended employees.

“In short, there have been no orders since the outbreak of Covid-19,” Buntheoun said. “The orders have reduced a lot. My factory might suspend more workers because currently, there is no work to do.”

According to GMAC, You Li employs nearly 5,000 people to produce underwear and clothes for men, women and children. 

Svay Rieng provincial labor director Ou Saroeun said representatives from the department were reviewing the situation.

“I have sent officers to investigate and advise them to properly fulfill the conditions according to what has been set by the ministry, because they are in the garment industry. So, if they properly fulfill the conditions set by the ministry, workers will get all benefits,” Saroeun said. 

At the end of last month, Propitious Garment factory in Takhmao City laid off more than 2,400 workers without providing a reason. The factory employs about 3,800 workers, according to GMAC.

In an open letter released this week, GMAC said the number of suspended workers could soon rise to 200,000, or about a quarter of the sector’s labor force.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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