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Dispute ends as W&D factory rehires workers

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W&D factory workers protest in the vicinity of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in the capital on March 18. Heng Chivoan

Dispute ends as W&D factory rehires workers

The three-month industrial dispute involving W&D Cambodia Co Ltd appeared to be over on Wednesday after the company agreed to reinstate more than 1,000 sacked workers.

The firm said the workers’ seniority would be maintained but it would not offer pay and benefits for the period of the strike, an outcome the protesters said they had no objections to.

“The company has decided to agree to reinstate all the workers with seniority maintained. All workers must return to work as usual at 7am from Friday and Saturday without fail."

“The company will not provide wages and benefits for the period of the strike, according to Article 332 of the Labour Law."

“All workers when returning to work must respect the assignment and comply with the internal regulations of the company,” said an announcement by Hsu Shun Feng, the CEO of W&D Cambodia on Wednesday.

The resolution came after Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday appealed to the owners of W&D to reinstate the workers, claiming they were incited by some people to demonstrate.

Hun Sen appointed the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training to be a coordinator in resolving the issue.

Workers representative Kim San said they were happy with the resolution and the intervention of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“We don’t have any objections. The important thing is to be reinstated, and we are not disappointed that they will not pay us for the duration of the strike. Now we are announcing the news so workers who have gone to their provinces can be informed and return to work,” he said.

Ath Thon, the president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), applauded the outcome.

“The workers demanded reinstatement and the company had been unclear, saying they would reinstate them on this day and then on that day. But then there was an appeal from the Prime Minister and the company agreed to reinstate the workers,” he said.

‘Very short notice’

Ath Thon said that setting only two days for workers to return to work on Friday and Saturday was very short notice and that some would not be able to return on time because they had left for other jobs in other areas.

“I think that the factory should give them one month’s notice because some have probably returned to their hometowns,” he said.

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour said as W&D Cambodia had already issued an announcement, the ministry had nothing much to comment.

“With regard to the request of the company, the ministry will continue to coordinate in the matter. If there is an issue with any institution, the ministry will help coordinate further,” he said.

The W&D director-general, who only gave his name as Jimmy, said in a press conference on March 10 that his company had suffered losses of more than $1 million and had lost up to three out of 10 overseas buyers due to the three-month industrial dispute.

Jimmy claimed the losses resulted from the late delivery of goods.

The dispute between W&D and its workers began on December 24 when the latter went on strike to demand the factory owner pay them seniority indemnity before implementing a new law that requires such payment to be made every six months.

The company then dismissed 1,104 workers on grounds they failed to follow its court-supported ultimatum that required them to return to work within 48 hours.

The workers responded to the ultimatum by occupying the factory, with their representatives saying they would not give in until their demands were met.

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