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Union claims more than 600 dismissed

Union leaders have said that more than 600 garment workers have been dismissed from their jobs in connection with unrest in the industry last month, a figure disputed by industry representatives.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union said 131 union representatives were still suspended pending court rulings on the legality of strikes last month to protest the garment industry’s new minimum wage.

Six hundred and one workers who protested the suspensions of these representatives have seen their contracts terminated because they ignored court orders requiring them to return to work within 48 hours, the statement said.

But Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said just 358 workers had seen their contracts terminated, and that several factories had recently allowed workers to return based on court orders.

“I don’t know whether they’ve updated their figures, but in any case, they likely inflated the numbers anyway, just like there were 200,000 striking workers, which we all know there weren’t,” Loo said.

The CCAWDU statement said that 13 factories had failed to comply with court orders allowing workers and union representatives to return to their jobs.

“These factory owners are ignoring the courts,” said Un Visal, labour dispute officer at CCAWDU.

GMAC and union representatives signed a memorandum of understanding last week calling for greater use of the collective bargaining agreements that ban strikes and lockouts throughout their terms. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KHOUTH SOPHAK CHAKRYA AND JAMES O’TOOLE


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