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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Garment employees back on the job as protests end

Garment employees back on the job as protests end

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Xing Tai garment factory workers protest against what they say are poor working conditions earlier this week.

But some of Xing Tai factory workers vow to protest unless a union representative is rehired, which a manager rules out

AFTER three days of protesting, employees of the Xing Tai garment factory in Sen Sok district returned to work Thursday, citing improvements to the factory's working conditions.

"We have compromised with the factory and are working towards ending the conflict," said Um Visal, the labour dispute resolution officer at the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union. "We called for the workers to go back to work on Thursday."

About 100 employees had returned to work on Wednesday, though another 300 demonstrated in front of the factory and threatened to light tyres on fire to protest poor working conditions, which they said included inadequate toilets and hot, windowless work spaces.

Garment worker Mam Srey Kun said Thursday that the sewing machines at the factory had been improved and that new fans and lights had been installed.

Phon Thavy, a 23-year-old garment worker, said she believed the improvements were a direct result of the protests.

"Before, this factory had poor working conditions and the sanitation was bad, but now everything has changed and is better," she said, pointing to the new lamps and fans.

Mam Srey Kun noted, though, that one key disagreement had not been resolved: whether or not Va Sophon, a union representative, would be rehired.

"We will protest again, and it could be even bigger if the factory representative is not reinstated," she said.

Looming conflict
Horm Hav, the factory's chief of administration, said Thursday that the factory would not re-hire Va Sophon.

The union representative and his supporters have said he was dismissed for protesting company policies, though Horm Hav said he was dismissed for poor job performance.

In February, the Arbitration Council, an independent tribunal set up to resolve labour disputes, ruled that Va Sophon should be allowed to return.

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