Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Union rejects industry offer

Union rejects industry offer

Union rejects industry offer

THE Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia said yesterday that it would drop all complaints related to last month’s strikes in exchange for apologies from workers and unions, an offer a prominent union leader said had been rejected.

GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo said the offer had come following “several meetings” with union leaders and government officials convened in an attempt to resolve the outstanding disputes within the industry.

“We have two main conditions that we deem necessary. Firstly would be at the confederation level, we need a letter of apology ... not to us, but rather to all stakeholders,” Loo said.

“Secondly, at the enterprise level, the workers in question at the enterprise level have got to apologise to the factories.”

“If the unions accept the facts and acknowledge the fact that they were in the wrong, that’s the end of the issue.”

But Kong Athit, secretary general of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said GMAC’s offer was unacceptable.

“We cannot do that because we are not wrong and the government did not accuse us of being wrong,” he said. “If we apologise to them, it means we admit we were wrong, and then they can make more problems for us.”

Loo said 67 union representatives in total remained suspended in connection with strikes held last month to protest the minimum wage for garment workers. A total of 358 workers who protested the suspensions of their representatives had been fired because they ignored court orders requiring them to return to work within 48 hours, he added.

Kong Athit disputed these figures, however. He said 106 union representatives remained suspended and 677 workers had had their contracts terminated after protesting these suspensions.

Loo said that if the unions and workers did not agree to apologise, the factories that had filed complaints would continue to pursue them through the court system.

“If they don’t feel they were in the wrong, obviously they don’t have to apologise,” he said. “Obviously, we don’t think we were wrong, and the unions don’t admit they were wrong, but somebody’s wrong, so we can only turn to the courts to intervene.”

In a speech last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for employers to drop complaints against workers and union representatives.

Tuomo Poutiainen, the chief technical adviser for the International Labour Organisation’s Better Factories Cambodia programme, said it was still possible to find a compromise that would suit both the unions and the employers. He pointed to last month’s signing of a memorandum of understanding between union and industry representatives related to dispute resolution as a promising step for the Kingdom’s industrial relations.
“In my opinion, there’s basis to find positive cohabitation, and that would play well for the future of the industry,” Poutiainen said.

On Monday, 22 union representatives who had been suspended at the Sangwoo garment factory in Kampong Speu province were allowed to return to their jobs following a meeting with factory management.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which