Thousands of workers from the Tai Yang Enterprise garment factories, which supply major US brands Levis and Gap, have vowed to continue a two-week strike today after negotiations between the company, union and Labour Ministry officials broke down on Friday.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation Union, said Labour Minister Vong Sauth had promised to resolve the dispute on Thursday, then changed his mind the following day, instead referring the matter to the legal system.
“The minister did not protect the workers’ benefits, but he protected the employer. The employers abused the workers’ rights,” he said.
Work conditions at the factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district were unsatisfactory and the company had changed the name of one of its factories in order to avoid paying seniority bonuses, he said.
Workers have been on strike since June 25, demanding travel and accommodation stipends, performance bonuses and maternal leave.
Chhun said he would hand a thumb-printed petition from the workers to Prime Minister Hun Sen and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she arrives in Cambodia this week for the ASEAN Regional Forum.
Sath Samuth, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, said the case would be referred to the eighth Government-Private Sector Working Group, for which no date has been set yet.
“This committee is bigger than the Labour Ministry, and it has inter-ministry and legal procedures involved with it,” he said.
Samuth said a solution would take time as the union’s impatience seemed to suggest its representatives were not really committed to finding a solution.
On Thursday, some 4,000 workers from the involved factories marched toward the capital until they were blocked by police late in the afternoon.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]