Eight hundred and sixty-eight workers have been fired from the Winson International garment factory after they refused to obey a Kampong Speu Provincial Court injunction last week ordering them back to work within 48 hours.
Free Trade Union official Ry Sithinet said yesterday that the workers, who had been striking for better wages and the reinstatement of fired union members, would not agree to leave unless they were given benefits beyond the last wages the factory offered them.
“We are collecting the workers’ thumbprints in order to ask the employer to pay them compensation and other benefits, in accordance with the labour law,” Sithinet said.
But Winson International’s administrative manager, Kang Vannet, said yesterday that the workers were not owed other benefits because they had not obeyed the court injunction.
“They abandoned their work by themselves,” he said. “They made a big mistake.”
The 868 fired workers made up “almost all” the factory’s work force, Vannet said, but added the factory would not close its doors and would be willing to re-hire fired workers on new contracts.
The company lost about $50,000 per day due to the workers’ strike, he said.
According to fired worker Khut Thet, who had worked at the factory for two months, “the factory began recruiting new workers when we started to protest and since then, several new workers having been coming to the factory each day.”
Neither Thet nor Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, had heard before of so many workers being sacked at once.
Tola said the factory’s offer of new contracts was a ploy to pay the same workers less, because they would lose their seniority benefits.
Given the nation’s labour shortage, the workers should be able to find new employment with little problem, and then Winson International’s management “would be crying”, he said.