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Condom packers seek ‘unpaid’ bonuses

Forty-four Number One and OK condom packers, out of work since their contracts ended on Sunday, protested outside the office of health NGO Population Services Khmer (PSK) in Phnom Penh yesterday, demanding “unpaid” seniority bonuses.

Representative So Nita said the workers, four of whom have physical disabilities, worked at global organisation Population Services International (PSI) – which PSK evolved from last year – without a formal contract between 1994 and 2010.

They were then placed on fixed-duration contracts, the latest of which expired on June 30.

“At the end of last year, they gave us a six-month contract that we signed under the organisation’s new name, PSK, which has the same director as PSI,” Nita said.

The workers had been told they would be given an unlimited duration contract when it expired, she said.

“But they broke the promise . . . They did not give us a new contract,” she said. “The organisation did not pay us seniority bonuses and other benefits dating back to 1994.”

A 45th protester, 38, died of a heart attack on Sunday, Nita said.

“She was suffering and stressed from losing her job. We will protest until we win. The organisation must pay us according to the law.”

PSK also distributes mosquito nets and malaria and diarrhoea treatment kits and operated as the Cambodian branch of global health organisation PSI until last year.

PSI’s donors include the US, UK and German governments, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and UN agencies. According to an online job ad posted last month , PSK is now “an independent, local non-governmental organisation that was registered with the Cambodian Ministry of Interior.”

Heap Nuon, director of the human resources department at PSK, said the workers’ contracts had not been renewed because of “change in product procurement and limited in-country packaging needs”.

But the organisation had paid workers benefits dating back to 1994 and followed the Labour Law, Nuon claimed.

“The packers have been paid full . . . employment benefits,” Nuon said.

Oun Try, the Ministry of Labour’s dispute resolution department deputy director, said he had requested more information about the dispute.

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