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Union members ‘dismissed’

A garment factory hit by two mass fainting incidents last month has been accused of trying to get rid of workers who subsequently joined the Free Trade Union to push for better working conditions at the facility in Kampong Chhnang province.

FTU president Chea Mony wrote to the Ministry of Labour on Wednesday alleging that 20 employees at the factory who had joined the union were told on Monday that their contracts were expiring at the end of this month. They had joined the union after managers failed to improve working conditions following the fainting incidents, he said.

“The company is firing the workers by claiming they had reached the end of their contracts, but they have actually worked at the company for more than three years so they cannot be considered fixed-contract employees,” Chea Mony said.

“The company had no right to fire the workers. According to labour laws, they completed their fixed contracts and have become staff with unfixed contracts,” he added.

M&V human resource manager In Mun denied the company had fired any workers. “I did not receive any report that the factory dismissed workers,” he said. Toem Silan, president of Free Trade Union at the factory, said management on Monday began telling workers who had joined FTU to thumbprint a letter saying their fixed-contracts would expire on October 1.

Mean Sokhen said she was among those who would be dismissed from the factory.

“The company discriminates against unions and fires workers contrary to the law. The workers did not want to provoke a dispute with the company. We want the company to let workers return to work,” she said.

“Workers want the new union to help protect their benefits and demand the company abide by the law,” she said.

Som Sinat, deputy director of Kampong Chhnang’s department of labour, said he was unaware of the case. “I will investigate to find out if any workers were fired illegally,” he said.

Global brand H&M, which buys apparel from the factory, said it was investigating working conditions at the factory earlier this month, following the mass fainting incidents in August.

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