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Over 1,400 factory workers demand ‘compensation’

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C.CAWDU holds a press conference to discuss the more than 1,000 laid-off garment workers on April 27. FB

Over 1,400 factory workers demand ‘compensation’

Over 1,400 workers from 23 factories are seeking the intervention of institutions, including the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, to order their former employers to pay them compensation rightfully owed for laying them off.

The 1,408 workers said some of them had been facing unpaid wages and lack of compensation since being laid off in 2014. They submitted a letter to the ministry and Cabinet to seek their intervention in the dispute.

To further highlight their plight, the workers and the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) held a conference on April 27 where coalition president Kong Athit said that the workers have been facing hardship, having lost their jobs. He said some of them had tried to find a solution through the Arbitration Council and had won the cases, but employers still have not abided by the decision of the mediating body.

He accused the conflict resolution mechanism comprising the Arbitration Council, the court, and the labour ministry of being “weak”, and requested that the ministry’s inspection team put more pressure on employers to abide by the decision.

Athit also said that these workers had “faced injustice”, having had their livelihoods impacted by Covid-19, yet had not received financial support from the government as had been offered to other workers.

“We encourage the labour ministry to push our former employers to respect the decision of the Arbitration Council. The factories that had reached agreements with employers yet still have not implemented the agreement must be forced to do so. The ministry should also help push the factories that have not paid out worker compensation to do so,” he said.

Labour ministry spokesman Heng Sour told The Post that the ministry had on April 26 invited the worker representatives to come to its offices and explain the issue.

He also noted that some factories had changed their names, making it challenging to conduct follow-ups.

“In this case, we need to review relevant documents. For the factories that are still in operation, we will get more information about them to see why the workers were laid off, to see whether the laying off was due to labour dispute or personal issues,” he said.

Sour said the ministry will continue to work with the union and “pay more attention” to the developing situation, as well as send specialist officials to work with worker representatives to find a solution.

Vann Sopha, a worker from Zhong Yin (Cambodia) Textile Co Ltd, said at the conference that she had called on the labour ministry to help her and other workers who have yet to receive compensation to issue a demand for it, noting that the Arbitration Council had ruled that the workers definitively won the case.

“We won the case at the Arbitration Council, but the company did not implement the decision because it went bankrupt. My group has 12 members who still have not received compensation,” she said.

Another worker, Soeun Piseth from Greenfield (Cambodia) Industry Co Ltd, said the labour ministry had ordered his factory to reinstate him, but management did not abide by the ruling, causing him to face financial hardship from being unemployed.

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