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Factory talks fall through

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Workers protest over unpaid seniority indemnity at the Now Corp garment factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district on Thursday morning. via facebook

Factory talks fall through

Negotiation between representatives of Now Corp – a garment factory in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district – and its workers fell through on Monday as some of the latter remained adamant that the firm’s latest compensation offer was still too low.

Now Corp allegedly terminated the workers’ contracts abruptly last Wednesday after months of order scarcity. It offered each worker a sum of money as indemnity, ranging between $320 and $450.

The meeting, supervised by provincial Labour Department director Thol Neang, was held on Monday from 9am to noon and aimed at finding a solution for some 400 workers who rejected the initial compensation offer.

Following the most recent negotiation, some workers accepted the firm’s new offer, while others did not.

The workers were divided into three groups, Neang told The Post on Monday.

One group said they would file a complaint to the Arbitration Council of the Ministry of Labour, another group to the court, while the last one agreed to accept the new offer, ranging between $450 and $500.

“The workers have the right to accept or reject the firm’s offer. We will continue working on this issue,” Neang said.

Heng Sokha, a workers’ representative who participated in the meeting, said what he and other workers wanted from the firm was a fair amount of their senior indemnity pay.

He stressed that some workers had worked for the firm for more than a decade, but the factory only agreed to provide them with compensation worth of two and half years of service on grounds that a similar benefit had already been given before.

“The factory could not honour the workers’ contracts and it never mentioned whether it was facing bankruptcy or something else. That is unacceptable for the workers,” he said.

Khen Sophorn, 31, another representative, reiterated that if there was no acceptable resolution, the workers will stage another protest and seek intervention from the Ministry of Labour’s Arbitration Council.

Due to lack of orders, Now Corp halved the workers’ shift for one-and-a-half months. After the period ended, it suspended operations for two months and asked the workers to return to work on June 26.

On Wednesday, instead of assigning the workers to their posts, the factory offered each of them between $320 and $450, regardless of their length of service, to have their contracts terminated.

Most workers accepted the offer but more than 400 others refused as they considered the offer too low.

Representatives of the workers and local government met last Thursday to address the issue. They agreed to meet with the factory’s owner on Monday to find a solution.

Neither the factory owner, identified as a South Korean national by some workers, nor the administrative officer could be reached for comment on Monday.

Sieng Sambath, the president of the Worker Friendship Union Federation (WFUF), said on Monday that it was up to the workers to file a complaint to the ministry or the courts.

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