A ong-running dispute between Supertex garment factory and laid off employees ended yesterday with the company paying out almost all compensation demands, days after the world’s biggest apparel companies arrived in Cambodia to discuss labour issues.
Almost 2,000 former employees will now receive all five points of compensation they have demanded for more than three months, though some said they felt the amounts had been incorrectly calculated.
About 1,882 workers stopped a protest yesterday outside the company’s factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district after it was announced that Supertex and the Ministry of Labour would pay out the compensation.
Ros Channa, a representative of Cambodian Independent Workers Union, said she received US$959 in compensation after working at the factory for nearly 10 years.
“I’m happy that demands the workers have made for over three months resulted in success. Nevertheless, around 20 or 30 workers are still protesting because the factory still owes them $100 each on top of the payout,” she said.
Sry Kimyu, a lawyer representing Supertex, said compensation had been calculated legitimately by the Ministry of Labour and said workers that claimed otherwise were confused.
“Some workers got confused because they calculated the bonus based on daily work, but of course the bonus is calculated on a monthly basis excluding Sundays,” he said.
The five points of compensation, which Supertex was ordered to pay by the Arbitration Council in early August, included indemnity, damages, lost salary, annual leave and unpaid wages. Mouen Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Centre, said Supertex had likely caved to pressure from companies it supplies, such as global retailer Target, whose representatives met at a buyers’ forum in Phnom Penh on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I’m not clear if they had a confidential meeting, but the international suppliers were involved in pushing them to pay,” Mouen Tola said.
But Ken Loo, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said Supertex had closed down and thus had no reason to be influenced by buyers into resolving the dispute.
“No absolutely not, there’s absolutely no correlation in conjunction with the timing of the buyers’ forum,” Ken Loo said.
Representatives of Target could not be reached for comment yesterday.