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Dancing eases protest tension

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Garment workers protest for the second day outside the Manhattan Cambodia factory yesterday.

After a week of fruitless protests, almost 2,000 garment workers in Kampong Cham province yesterday found a new outlet for their frustration – dance.

Man Seng Hak, an adviser for the Free Trade Union of Cambodia, said frustrated workers at the Manhattan Cambodia garment factory in Kampong Siem district had intended to enter the factory by force as negotiations with company representatives and Labour Ministry officials dragged on, but after union officials intervened, the workers began dancing in front of the factory.

“As the negotiation was prolonged and they had no resolution, the workers were about to flock into the factory,” he said.

“After they were stopped by the union, they turned to dance to reduce the tense environment.”

Though a full resolution was not reached, Man Seng Hak said the factory had agreed to implement three of 12 points originally requested by workers.

Man Seng Hak, who attended the negotiations, said the factory had agreed to allow workers to wear shoes while working and to pay a month’s salary and other benefits to a former employee who workers claimed was unfairly dismissed.

The factory also agreed to pay benefits in accordance with the law if it sacked an employee without providing notice.

“Of the three points which the company [agreed to], two were ordered by the Arbitration Council. The other nine points were not agreed upon,” he said, adding that workers planned to march to the provincial hall today.

Union officials told the Post this week the Arbitration Council had repeatedly ordered the factory to implement five of the workers’ 12 demands.

The latest ruling had been issued in October, they said.

Sam Seyha, administrative manager at the factory, declined to comment.

Khiev Savuth, deputy director of the dispute-resolution department at the Ministry of Labour, who attended the negotiations, also declined to comment to the Post.

San Kim Leng, deputy director of the provincial labour office, said relevant officials were doing their job.

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