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Rare win for Ocean Garment strikers

120910_02

Workers from Ocean Garment factory participate in a protest last month. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Ocean Garment, the Phnom Penh-based clothing manufacturer at the centre of sexual harassment claims and an illegal strike that lasted more than two weeks, has agreed to compensate more than 2,500 workers for wages lost during the protests, a move union advocates have highlighted as rare.

A throng of more than half of the Dangkor district factory’s work force hit the pavement on August 11, rallying behind six female workers who claimed manager Faruk Ahamed made sexual advances – claims that are now being dealt with Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

After a number of meetings with the workers’ Collective Union of Movement of Workers, Ocean management on Saturday announced workers would receive half their daily wage and allowance for the 16-day protest, with each to be paid $20 in total.

While CUMW had lobbied Ocean for full compensation, they accepted the 50 per cent deal, worker representative Keo Kim Heang said yesterday, adding she would announce the news to workers today.

Company Director Mamunar Rashid said the payout was not considered compensation, but rather a “grant” to help the workers and discourage further industrial action.

“We agreed the strike in August was a misunderstanding; we have made the payment to keep a congenial atmosphere at the factory,” he said.

Rashid maintained the decision to compensate was not influenced by the international attention the sexual harassment claims have received.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mom Kunthear and Claire Knox at neswroom@phompenhpost.com

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