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Supertex workers in new strike

WORKERS from the Supertex textile factory have threatened to hold a massive protest today after factory owners rejected their demands for compensation during an Arbitration Council hearing yesterday.

On June 20, Supertex declared, without prior notice, that it would close its factory located along National Highway 2 in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, setting off a dispute between the factory’s management and approximately 1,600 workers.

Sry Kimyu, a Supertex representative, claimed in yesterday’s hearing that the company was facing bankruptcy after the withdrawal of a major financial partner, Apitol Company. The hearing was held after negotiations at a first hearing on July 18 fell through, with workers rejecting a proposed compensation package they deemed inadequate.

On June 28, the company sent a letter to the Ministry of Labour requesting a two-month suspension of operations in order to find new financial backing.  A suspension, unlike formal bankruptcy, would not require the payment of worker compensation. A company proposal advanced at yesterday’s hearing offering to pay workers US$12 per month during the two-month suspension period sparked outrage among more than 500 workers gathered outside the Arbitration Council building in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district. Worker representative Seng Sokeang said: “US$12 per month is not even enough to buy food, let alone water and electricity. All the workers have agreed to host a big strike on Friday.”  

Pen Bun Chhea, president of the Arbitration Council’s presiding judges, announced that the dispute would be settled on August 12.

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