Workers Block Kampong Speu Road Over Lunar New Year Conflict

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Workers at Smart Shirt Garments Manufacturing in Kampong Speu protested over a Lunar New Year labor dispute on January 25, 2023. (Supplied)
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Around 1,000 workers in Kampong Speu protested outside the factory they work at because employers decided to cut their wages because they took a day off to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday.

Prum Bunthorn, president of workers’ union Cambodian Livelihood Development Association, said workers at Smart Shirts Garments Manufacturing have been protesting for the last three days after the factory changed its stance about workers taking Saturday off to celebrate the holiday.

They then resorted to blocking National Road 41 Kampong Speu, he added, and said authorities need to intervene to find a quick resolution.

“So the labor department should find a compromise for this case and shouldn’t delay, otherwise it will affect both sides,” Bunthorn said.

A worker at the factory, who was at the road blockade and wanted to remain anonymous if the factory sued them for collective action, said the factory had agreed to reduce one day of their annual leave allocation in lieu for not working on Saturday.

But when they got to work on Monday, she said, the factory administration informed them that they would instead cut one day of salary instead, which caused the protest.

“So the workers were disappointed. They protested and blocked the road,” she said.

Workers only returned to work on Wednesday afternoon after the factory agreed to stick to the original arrangement.

Chak Borin, director of the labor department in Kampong Speu, said the workers had already stopped the blockade and returned to work after the factory agreed to their demands. 

“Both sides have already accepted the compromise. The workers wanted the factory to change, and the factory agreed to change,” he said.

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