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Sewing machines fall silent at H&M supplier

About 3,000 workers from a factory in Kampong Chhnang province that supplies Swedish clothes brand H&M switched off their sewing machines and refused to work yesterday after their demands for better working conditions were refused.

Noun Sam Ol, the Free Trade Union’s representative at M&V factory, where hundreds collapsed in two separate mass fainting incidents in August, said workers wanted US$10 per month transportation and attendance bonuses, $2 extra for working holidays and Sundays, and the option to work overtime during the week instead of working Saturdays.

“I met with the factory’s administration manager to talk about the workers’ demands and he said the company had asked them to wait and they will find a resolution for them for the first and second points in the next two months and the other two points in the next two weeks,” she said.

The workers had rejected the offer and had gone on strike to demand immediate action.

Oeu Sophun, 32, who has worked at M&V since 2002, said the workers feared the company was cheating them.

“We need these demands like water, but they will give them to us in the next two months, so we will die before we get them,” she said.

The employees would not return to work until the company had agreed to their requests, Oeu Sophun said.

“They asked us to wait while they consider our demands – how can we trust them?”

M&V administration manager Yin Nak said the workers’ stop-work action was illegal as they had not told the company in advance they planned to strike.

“What they demanded from us is not required under the law,” he said. “We just provided benefits to them in March, so we need to carefully consider any new demands. Besides, the company does not have the ability to fulfil these demands right now."

Yin Nak said the company had agreed on Saturday to consider the demands immediately, but had changed its mind yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at kunthear.mom@phnompenhpost.com

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