The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) released a statement on Tuesday asking union leaders to halt protests and comply with the incoming law on seniority indemnity back pay.
The statement said some union leaders led their employees and workers on strike, demanding that their employers give them seniority indemnity back pay once a year, contradicting an incoming law mandating that it is paid every six months.
“Seniority payments” will replace Cambodia’s current system of “indemnity for dismissal” payments – a legal concept requiring employers to give an employee severance pay if their contract is terminated – at the start of 2019.
As a result of the amendment, Prakas 443, an employer is no longer required to indemnify an employee who is dismissed but will be required to pay “seniority payments” every six months, equivalent to 15 days of the employee’s pay. The first payment will occur in June of each year, and the second payment in December.
“GMAC demands that all unions respect the spirit of Prakas 443 and relevant regulations in order to ensure harmonious industrial relations and stability of the textile, garment and footwear sector,” the GMAC statement read.
It also requested that the government intervene and urged the relevant sectors to implement the Prakas Law as stated, or risk rocking investor confidence in the Cambodian industry.
Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union president Ath Thorn said workers wanted the seniority indemnity payment paid once per year, but employers were unable to do this.
“The seniority indemnity will be paid in June next year. Why is the strike happening now? The strike is not right. We want to have an acceptable solution without protests,” he said.
Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour called for “all concerned parties to respect the laws and regulations, particularly upholding peaceful and lawful industrial relations.”
GMAC deputy secretary general Kang Monica said unions from at least four different factories are behind the unrest.
She called the demands “contrary to the spirit of the law [Prakas 443],” and added that such a demand would cause instability in Cambodia’s garment industry, which is already experiencing problems.