Updated: SYHJ Factory Fires 10 More Members of New Union

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Hul Sokhim, center, speaking to colleagues from the SYHJ Garment factory in Kandal’s Ang Snoul district in April, 2022. (Photo supplied)

A factory refusing a Labor Ministry order to reinstate fired unionists has dismissed 10 more union members this week.

SYHJ Garment, a Chinese-owned factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district, fired three leaders of a newly emerging union in April, leading to a Labor Ministry directive that the terminations violated Trade Union Law protections for shop steward and union leaders. But the factory has remained defiant.

Hul Sokhim, president of the new union — one of the three fired in the initial round of terminations — said on Wednesday that 10 other workers had been laid off this week. She said it was illegal union busting.

“The owner dismissed them without clear reason. They were voters who supported those who stood as my union’s representatives,” she said. “Frankly speaking, those who were involved with me … were dismissed.”

Ny Mao, one of the 10 workers fired this week, said the termination was unreasonable. He worked overtime and weekends like other workers, and had committed no transgressions of company policies, he said.

“During work, they called me to dismiss me. I did nothing wrong,” Mao said. “I don’t understand how my work was lacking?”

Prum Kosal, an executive assistant at SYHJ, said the factory had dismissed workers because they violated the company’s internal rules on several points. He said the company was not concerned about the union’s complaints.

“The company dismissed them because they had issues with our internal rules, including that they did not cooperate much and did not pay attention to the company’s work.”

Independent Trade Union Federation president Ry Sithinet said his federation would help the factory’s workers file a complaint to the Labor Ministry requesting reinstatement.

“[We] are translating them to English. When we are ready, we will submit them to buyers. We have found that three brands are involved with the factory SYHJ,” but the federation had yet to ascertain who they were, Sithinet said. On Thursday, Sithinet said the brands were Mango and Inditex’s Bershka, both Spanish, and Sinsay, from Poland.

The federation said in a statement that a similar case was ongoing at Walmart shoe supplier Qi Ming Xin, also in Kandal province. The factory had fired five union leaders earlier this year, and the Labor Ministry issued an order on March 16 to reinstate and compensate them. The company had not complied, the statement said.

Around 350 union leaders and active members have been unfairly dismissed since the start of 2020, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union has estimated.

Updated at 4:17 p.m. with a labor group saying which brands SYHJ manufactures for.

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