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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Protest ends, dispute goes on

Protest ends, dispute goes on

120104_05
Garment factory workers protest outside Kwei Yang (Cambodia) Co Ltd in Kandal province yesterday.

A protest at a Taiwanese-owned garment factory in Kandal province ended yesterday with an agreement between management and workers, following an urgent meeting with local officials to avoid a traffic jam in front of the factory on Highway No 4.

Protesters at Kwei Yang garment factory in Ang Snuol district said they had nine demands but would return to work this morning after having settled or agreed to continue negotiating with management on seven points, with the two most contentious demands to go to the Arbitration Council.

Tok Kim San, the factory’s chief of administration, said some workers had been confused about the US$5 monthly health bonus announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen in November, which takes effect this month.

They convinced other workers that they had been cheated out of the bonus and incited them to strike, he said.

“The company follows the law,” Tok Kim San said, adding that some demands went beyond what the law requires and that these would be brought to the Arbitration Council.

Factory worker Moy Samlot said yesterday’s protest by more than 400 workers in front of the factory followed a protest by about 200 workers on Saturday.

The company failed to negotiate with them on Saturday so they protested again, she said.

Moy Samlot said the main disagreement was over a monthly $5 bonus.

“Last month, the company divided the bonus into weekly payments and deducted it from workers who declined to work overtime,” she said.  

Cheng Sovann, vice-president of the Cambodian National Confederation for Labourers’ Protection, said union representatives, officials from the provincial labour department, the district military commander and company representatives held an urgent meeting to resolve the strike to avoid bringing traffic on the highway to a standstill.

“Workers and the company settled five points and agreed to discuss two other points on January 12,” he said. Two other demands, the $5 monthly incentive and alleged deductions of bonuses, would be sent to Arbitration Council for a solution, he said.

Sok Khem, deputy director of the labour department’s labour office, said she joined the meeting to explain labour laws to workers, not to negotiate a resolution.

She said the Arbitration Council would invite both sides to a meeting today.

“The workers’ demands exceed benefits allowed under the law.

They still do not understand clearly, although legal points were explained many times,” she said.

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