Workers from SL Garment Processing (Cambodia)’s SL1 and SL2 factories protest yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
A long day of negotiations failed to resolve a factory dispute yesterday at a company that supplies to major international brands Gap, Levi’s and H&M.
After more than 1,500 workers from SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) factories in the capital’s Meanchey district marched to the Ministry of Social Affairs on Monday, officials from that department agreed to help mediate the dispute yesterday morning.
As many as 4,000 workers have been involved in strikes at the two factories since May 12.
Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said workers and their bosses were unable to agree after eight hours of discussions at the factory yesterday.
“C.CAWDU played the role of negotiator for the workers, but they disagreed with the factory’s offer, so we couldn’t sign an agreement,” he said.
Workers demanded transport and living allowances totalling $25 per month, but the factory offered a combined $7.
“The workers agreed to drop their demand to $10, but the employer stood firm at $7, which the workers couldn’t accept,” he said.
The strikers’ demand that the factory pay them an attendance bonus of $12 per month, which they later dropped to $10, was also rejected by management, which offered them only $8, Ath Thorn said.
Other demands, including that SL Garment withdraw complaints to the Phnom Penh municipality were also rejected.
The complaints are against three C.CAWDU and 17 workers’ representatives who management accuse of leading strikes after the court ordered employees back to work on May 18.
“They did not want to negotiate and threatened to arrest workers’ representatives like me and C.CAWDU officials,” he said, adding workers would continue striking if no agreement was reached.
Ea Chip Ieng, personnel manager at SL Garment Processing (Cambodia), said brands that sourced from the factory would lose confidence in factories in Cambodia if strikes continued.
“We provide them [workers] with what we can,” he said.
Khuon Ranin, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Social Affairs, who chaired negotiations, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]