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Garment workers back on job

Garment workers back on job

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Garment workers protest against poor working conditions and low wages at a factory in Phnom Penh during a nationwide strike in September.

  Nearly 200 garment workers from Kandal province will return to work on Monday after they were fired or suspended following September’s garment strikes, although 142 workers ousted after the strikes remain unemployed, union leaders said today.

A total of 161 garment workers from the Goldfame Enterprise factory in Sa’ang district were among more than 3,300 dismissed in the province following a massive strike in which thousands of workers across the country demanded higher wages.

Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said today that the workers’ return was negotiated at a meeting with the company and its buyers on Tuesday.

“We told them about the difficulty of the workers after they were fired and the prime minister’s intervention,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in September called for a “win-win solution” to the dispute, appealing to the courts to drop complaints filed against striking workers by factory owners and asking that workers be allowed to return to their jobs.

“I think the government should have the power to push the company to accept the workers,” said Ath Thorn, adding that he would send a letter to Hun Sen on behalf of 142 workers from 14 factories who remained unemployed.

Chea Thida, a union representative at Goldfame Enterprise, said today that she was happy to return to work.

“I already prepared myself to return back to work and then I will have money to pay for rent and food,” she said, but added that she is not afraid to protest again if necessary.

A representative of Goldfame Enterprise factory who declined to be named said today that he did not know whether the workers would have the same salaries when they returned.

A meeting between union and factory representatives to negotiate worker benefits will be held in Phnom Penh on Monday.

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