Three fired union workers at a Kampong Speu factory are asking the Labor Ministry to intervene in their dismissals, characterizing the terminations as a union-busting attempt.
The three workers — Sroeu Neang, Muon Samok and Bou Rath — issued a letter on Monday accusing the Cinlon International factory in Kampong Speu’s Kong Pisey district of wrongful termination, alleging they were fired after they formed a pro-worker union in the factory.
The three formed the Khmer Workers’ Rights Union in June this year, their letter stated, but were fired a few days later. And while the Labor Ministry on July 4 asked the factory to reinstate the workers, Cinlon had ignored the directive, they alleged.
Rath, who was elected vice president in June, said they formed the union to protect against labor rights violations on the factory floor, and that they were not given clear reasons for the dismissals.
“I think that this is a discrimination against union because after we have informed the factory, they fired us straight away. They fired us without informing us in advance,” Rath said.
While Rath alleged that factory managers would not allow workers to get checkups while they were pregnant, Neang, who was elected union president, alleged the factory fired workers who refused to do overtime and the factory was not part of the National Social Security Fund.
“The factory fired any workers who don’t work on Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “So we started creating a union to easily handle this issue.”
Touch Sophoan, head of the factory’s administration, said the owner was not discriminatory for terminating the three workers. They were let go because the factory did not have enough work orders.
“I did not stop them as a union. I stopped them as a worker and it was not only those three, many other workers [were fired] because the factory did not have work for workers to do,” Sophoan said.
Ang Sengly, the head of the department of labor disputes, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
A number of union members have been terminated recently because they decided to represent workers’ rights, they allege. Workers at a Puma-supplier factory were fired recently after they tried to form a union and union leaders were fired at Phnom Penh’s New Mingda factory this month for the same reason.