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Minister asks garment factory to recall 37 workers

The Minister of Social Aff-airs has sent a letter to the management of the Tai Yang and Camwell garment factories, suppliers to Levi’s and Gap, requesting it reinstate 37 workers involved in a strike that has dragged on for almost two months.

“In order to ensure security and public order and to end this persistent striking, I ask the director of Tai Yang Enterprises to reinstate all workers,” the letter from Ith Sam Heng, dated August 17 and obtained by the Post yesterday, states.

Unions and the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity (ACILS) have been calling for the letter since August 3, when ACILS and the ministry met to discuss the fate of the remaining 37 strikers, whom the comp-any claimed to have sacked.

ACILS country director Dave Welsh, whose organis-ation has been backing the workers, hopes the issue is now resolved.

“It’s very positive,” Welsh said last night. “The only other time something like this has happened was during the general strike of 2010. That was the Prime Minister [Hun Sen] giving the order . . . and this is a much smaller issue, but it’s an important issue.”

But according to GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo, the letter changed nothing.

“I’m sure we will advise the factory to maintain its existing position,” he said, adding that the company had a court document that had ordered the strikers back to work before their sacking.

“I’m not sure how, or in what form, the [minister’s] letter was presented, and I would assume that this letter can only be a letter of request . . . I don’t think it can come in the form of an order.”

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederat-ion of Unions, said the reinstatement request was a victory, but he was disappointed the workers’ original request for seniority bonuses had not been mentioned.

Tai Yang Enterprises manager Wu Minghuor, who had previously said a letter would not make him accept the workers back, could not be reached last night.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phonmpenhpost.com
With assistance from Khouth Sophak Chakrya

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