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City gardeners demand severance

City gardeners demand severance

AROUND 70 municipal garden workers who lost their jobs as part of a nationwide reduction in contracted and temporary government staff say they will continue to press their claims for one year’s worth of severance pay, even though local officials rejected their appeals on Wednesday.

Gardener Kong Narin, 44, said the workers met with Sam Samoth, chief of the Garden Office at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, who said their demands could not be met.

“They said that if 271 gardeners demand one year’s pay, more workers in other sectors who get laid off will make the same demands as us,” she said.

The garden workers, who were told that their jobs had been terminated in December, filed a complaint with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet on January 18 demanding one year’s worth of severance pay. The layoffs went into effect on January 1.

Kong Narin said officials at the meeting also asked the gardeners to stop pressing their demands, but she vowed that the workers would take their grievances to the prime minister’s home in Takhmao.

She added: “Since I stopped working, I have not found a job yet. The burden of my family depends on my two children, who have small salaries.”

Meanwhile, more than 100 workers who have stayed on as gardeners for City Hall have seen their salaries slashed from 255,000 riels to 210,000 riels (about US$50) and have been forced to take on heavier work loads, Kong Narin said.

Sam Samoth could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but told the Post in January that the authorities had no choice but to lay off half of all contracted and temporary workers for 2010.

Chreang Sophan, a Phnom Penh deputy governor, said Wednesday that there was nothing City Hall could do to help the workers.

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