Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Factory’s contracts seen as ‘test case’ for brands




Factory’s contracts seen as ‘test case’ for brands

Motorists and pedestrians move past a closed USA Fully Field Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district
Motorists and pedestrians move past a closed USA Fully Field Garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district yesterday. About 300 employees will return to work today under new contracts. SRENG MENG SRUN

Factory’s contracts seen as ‘test case’ for brands

A garment factory’s alleged efforts to wipe workers’ contract histories clean could be a “test case” for how much international buyers tolerate factories negotiating outside of legal requirements, a labour-rights advocate has said.

After effectively being bought out of their contracts, about 300 employees of USA Fully Field garment in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district will return to work today on new contracts as the factory “reopens” under the same name.

Dave Welsh, country manager of ACILS/Solidarity Center, says workers have accepted less than they were owed by law.

“You cannot write off your obligations by forcing workers to sign below legal [requirements],” he said.

While the garment industry has experienced multiple cases of workers losing benefits when factories have closed then reopened under a new name, this case was more blatant, he added.

“This could be a test case for the industry,” Welsh said, adding that his office was trying to confirm whether several well-known US retailers bought from the factory.

About 20 workers have refused the payouts, which were $650 for those on undetermined-duration contracts and $100 for those on fixed-duration contracts.

A company spokesman told the Post this week that the factory was not going to close – as workers had feared when they reported equipment being sold off – but a new general manager had been appointed and the company would operate under the same name.

“We … have made new contracts,” he said. “Workers who want to stay here have signed a new contract and will come here on [Friday].”

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia secretary-general Ken Loo said workers had put pressure on management to renegotiate contracts in an attempt to cash in.

Loo said workers had made similar demands at factories that had changed names.

“There shouldn’t be any change,” he said.

Sat Sakmoth, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, believed the factory had changed owners after the previous owner fled.

“We will find a resolution for the workers who refused to sign a new contract … but we cannot accuse this [factory] of doing anything illegal because … the new owner has paid the workers.”

Welsh said yesterday that he would meet with ministry officials about all workers being paid what they were owed.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia