More than 400 workers are set to stage a protest for “fair compensation” on Monday against Now Corp, a garment factory in Kandal’s Ang Snuol district that allegedly terminated their contracts abruptly.
On Wednesday, the workers went back to work after Now Corp suspended its operations for two months due to a lack of orders, only to find that the company intended to terminate their contracts without prior notice.
Now Corp offered each worker a sum of money as indemnity, but over 400 of whom refused as they considered the offer too low.
Representatives of the workers and local government met on Thursday to address the issue. They agreed to meet with the factory’s owner on Monday to find a solution.
Khen Sophorn, 31, one of the workers who did not accept the compensation confirmed that Now Corp had suspended its operations for two months and told the workers to resume their work on Wednesday.
Instead of assigning the workers to their posts, he said, the factory offered each of them between $320 and $450, regardless of their length of service, to have their contract terminated.
“Following the sudden announcement, some workers accepted the compensation while others, including me, did not agree as we felt that the severance pay was too low."
“The issue was that the factory was unable to find work for us to do. It’s not like we had resigned. I personally would rather continue working. If the factory intends to terminate us, they should abide by the law. We want the amount as specified by the law,” Sophorn told The Post on Sunday.
The factory owner, identified as a South Korean national by some workers, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Mom Seak, the president of the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit, said it was “very unreasonable of the factory to terminate the workers’ contracts just because it was unable to find work for them and then demand they accept the offered compensation”.
“Some workers were aware that they could obtain higher benefits if the indemnity was given in accordance with the law. It is not fair that the factory gives workers such compensation,” he said.
Seang Sambath, the president of Worker Friendship Union Federation (WFUF) which represents the workers at Now Corp, said the lack of purchase orders from clients was the reason the operations were halted.
He urged Now Corp to take responsibility. “The situation would be dire for the workers if the company doesn’t take responsibility. We don’t want the owner to run away. On Monday, we will negotiate to find alternative solutions”.
Provincial labour department director Thol Neang said he was not sure if the factory will remain open or cease operations.
“It’s still unsure whether or not the company will declare bankruptcy. The owner didn’t attend our previous discussion, therefore, we invited him to come to the meeting on Monday. We will determine the next steps during the meeting,” he told The Post on Sunday.
With respect to the amount of compensation, Neang could not ascertain if the range between $320 and $450 was appropriate. He stressed that a review into each of the workers’ contracts must be carried out to determine anything.
Some workers said Now Corp was established in 2006 and currently employs about 1,400 workers. Most of its products were exported to the US.