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21 Jun 2022

Andrew Haffner & Keat Soriththeavy, VOD

Cambodia: Garment workers of Walmart supplier Canteran Apparel petition prime minister to address factory closure & unpaid compensation

"Workers’ Protest Camp Mobilizes as Dispute Resolution Stalls", 21 June 2022

About 100 former workers of the Canteran Apparel factory in Phnom Penh have resorted to petitioning the prime minister himself to sort out their grievances, claiming the manager of their site left without warning and shut down the business without paying any compensation.

The laid-off garment makers...brought a petition to the office of the cabinet of Prime Minister Hun Sen pleading for the help of the country’s top leader. They also petitioned the embassies of the U.S. and Malaysia. Those countries respectively account for the final destination of much of Canteran’s production, which reportedly supplied retail giant Wal-Mart...

The move comes as official labor dispute mechanisms apparently jammed in their earliest stages. The workers had filed an earlier petition last month with the Labor Ministry and have held at least two sessions with ministry figures. However, the laid-off Canteran laborers claim these steps have not produced a solution to win adequate compensation that union leaders say they’re owed under the Cambodian Labor Law.

As they press their case in official channels, the workers have since May kept a protest camp at the Canteran site, first in the factory grounds itself and now on the gravel edge of Veng Sreng Blvd...

Their shelters were strung with banners printed with slogans demanding proper compensation for their abrupt termination from their factory jobs...

Union representatives at the site told VOD that Labor Ministry officials had told them they couldn’t locate the right factory representatives to secure adequate compensation. Instead, the ministry proposed the workers approve the sale of the remaining equipment from the Canteran factory and take whatever proceeds they could get from that.

The workers said that wasn’t acceptable, as the remaining equipment was old and would not fetch a price that would cover what they’re owed, which they estimated to be roughly $800,000.

Workers say the factory director left without notice, announcing the end of his time at Canteran with a note posted to staff on May 3...