On 1st day, garment strike gains little traction

Two unions that called for a stay-at-home strike by garment factory employees Wednesday had little success in mobilizing workers after six other unions, under pressure from the government and factory owners, pulled out of the planned industrial action on Tuesday. Union leaders who pushed ahead with the industrial action said that their members in 14 factories joined the strike, though some were back to work by the end of the day for fear that they would lose their jobs. Workers at one factory confirmed that they had staged a successful walkout Wednesday. The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) reported that none of its more than 400 factories were affected by the strikes, which unions initially said would involve hundreds of thousands of garment workers across the country. … Yaing Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said that local unions in 14 garment factories heeded the call to strike. … The six unions who backed out of this round of strikes have pledged to coordinate a nationwide strike after the Khmer New Year holiday, which begins on April 14. Following an earlier round of minimum wage strikes and demonstrations in late December and early January, which were violently suppressed by troops and military police, who shot dead five workers and injured at least 40 others, 23 protesters were imprisoned in a maximum security prison in rural Kompong Cham. Two have since been released on bail. About 150 factory owners filed legal complaints against the leaders of the six unions behind those strike protests. Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a zero-tolerance policy for unions that strike without following legal procedures.

Mech Dara