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Workers ‘win’ after Kandal factory strike

Nearly 2,000 workers at a Kandal province garment factory had returned to work on Saturday and 6,000 more planned to return today after nearly three weeks of strikes, company and union representatives said yesterday.

Yung Wah Factory administrative director Ing Minchuan confirmed yesterday that the roughly 2,000 workers at Yung Wah Factory 1, in Takhmao town, had returned to work on Saturday and the 6,000 workers at Yung Wah Factory 2 had pledged to return today.

“They promised me they would return to work on Monday,” he said.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said the workers had begun striking at the end of December.

But Ing Minchuan said only the workers at Factory 1 had been striking since December and that workers at Factory 2 had been on strike “for a couple of days”.

Union representatives had met with their corporate counterparts on Thursday, Chea Mony said, making six demands: that the factory provide at least 15 days’ notice before closing; provision of annual-leave payouts in case of closure; that the factory pay workers through the end of the month if the factory closes in the beginning or middle of the month; and that the factory pay workers five per cent of their monthly salaries on the termination of a worker’s short-term contract.

The workers also sought a severance package that would pay workers salaries equival-ent to how long they had been at the factory, he said.

Although the company refused to meet the demands, it agreed to provide a US$25 bonus to each worker, if workers agreed to return to the factory.

“The strike resulted in workers getting $25 as an annual incentive and an award of $7 for the striking period,” Chea Mony said.

Sok Socheat, a 30-year-old worker at Factory 1, said the workers had been “lucky” that the Free Trade Union had intervened in the dispute.

“Without the union’s help,  three weeks’ worth of striking would have been for nothing,” she said.

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