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Now Corp garment factory compensation dispute to be sent to Arbitration Council

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Workers protest over unpaid seniority indemnity at the Now Corp garment factory in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district last month. Supplied

Now Corp garment factory compensation dispute to be sent to Arbitration Council

Now Corp garment factory’s owner and representatives of more than 200 of its workers have decided to send their case to the Arbitration Council after negotiations failed following the firm’s latest compensation offer.

Kandal provincial Department of Labour director Thol Neang told The Post on Sunday: “We will send this contentious case to [the Arbitration Council] on Monday, as it is beyond this department’s jurisdiction.”

Workers representative Heng Sokha told The Post on Sunday that the final negotiation meeting was held between 9:30am and noon on Thursday. The meeting was attended by 12 representative workers, the Korean factory’s representatives and Sokha, and was supervised by the provincial Department of Labour.

He said factory representatives claimed that they did not have the money to pay more than the $480 they previously proposed. A representative of the workers did not accept the compensation because it “did not follow labour laws”.

“We will send the case to the Arbitration Council because the factory owner claimed it cannot pay anything more than $480 to the workers. If there are jobs, we want to go back to work again."

“The workers’ indemnity pay must be paid this July as per [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s] guidelines. The factory’s offer is unreasonable compared to the benefits that we could have received. If the factory followed the law, we should receive more than this,” said Sokha.

Sokha said the factory owner confirmed on Sunday that the factory will not close. The administration is currently seeking buyers to keep the factory running.

He expressed his hopes that the authorities would make sure the factory offers a proper resolution based on labour laws and pays the workers indemnity. He then noted that some indemnity payments have not been made in years.

Neither the factory owner nor administrative manager Meth Veasna could be reached for comment. Garment workers at the site told The Post that the owner is a Korean national.

Workers Friendship Union Federation president Sieng Sambath told The Post on Sunday that it is difficult for the factory to pay compensation in full, as it will not close its doors.

“Among the 1,400 workers, more than 1,200 have accepted [the compensation] and were laid off because they can wait for the company to end its suspension period,” said Sambath.

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

On that day, 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 it too low.

On June 26 and 27, more than 400 workers at Now Corp in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district protested in front of the factory demanding the owner pay compensation and other benefits owed as per the law.

A factory representative then decided to offer the protesting workers $480 in exchange for terminating their contracts.

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