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Chicken assignment is for the birds: unionists

Two unionists sacked from a company connected to Thai firm K Cement in 2010 have again been offered reinstatement, but the new roles given to them – tending to chickens – have infuriated their union.

The Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia yesterday criticised Banjamat Construction Company in Kampot for offering Chhun Pov and Tep Mao six-month contracts doing unrelated work five kilometres from the factory.

“This [is] yet another example of Banjamat Construction’s illegitimate and tactful offers of employment aimed at limiting the constitutional and statutory rights to organise as well as their disrespect for the authority of the Kampot Provincial Court,” a statement released yesterday said.

Both the court and the Arbitration Council have ruled that the two unionists, sacked a month after forming a union at the factory in November 2010, should be reinstated to their previous positions.

Pov said yesterday he and Mao had refused the six-month contracts.

“We are afraid they will take advantage at the end of the contract and fire us,” Pov said. “We have worked here for nearly five years.”

Dave Welsh, country director of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, which is backing the workers, said Thai company K Cement claimed each of its subsidiary companies – including Banjamat – were independent and had to go through the process of electing individual unions in its factories, a process that slowed down dispute resolution.

“These are delaying tactics,” he said. “It’s a good ploy if the backers aren’t committed, but we are very committed. We’re in it for the long run.”

Welsh said the original agreement and the decision of the Arbitration Council were clear: the two men had to be returned to their original positions.

He hoped K Cement would follow the lead of other foreign companies in Phnom Penh and respect its workers’ rights.

Banjamat administrative ma­nager Uy Piseth said his company was going through a restructuring period, but its workers were contracted consistent with the Labour Law.

“[We] depend absolutely on the law,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chhay Channyda at channyda.chhay@phnompenhpost.com
Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com

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