A resolution reached on Monday in the wake of a violent strike at two SL Garment factories that supply Levi’s and Gap resulted in employees returning to work yesterday – for the second time in days.
Ek Sopheakdey, a Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union legal official, said workers had accepted the factory’s conditions, which included it withdraw legal complaints against 23 C.CAWDU officials, putting an end to a strike that began on May 12 and involved more than 5,000 workers.
Worker Srey Ny, 31, however, said she was upset that the company, in the capital’s Meanchey district, would not be paying her for the past fortnight of strikes.
“But I have no choice, so I have to go back to work,” she said. “Otherwise, I have no money to pay my electricity and water bills and rent,” she said.
Employees returned to work on Saturday believing a document signed by the union, a representative of SL Garment Processing (Cambodia), the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia and government officials on Friday had been a formal agreement under which they would be paid for time spent striking.
The company released a statement on Saturday saying no such agreement had been made, prompting workers to throw stones at one of the factories and knock over motorbikes on Monday.
GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo said yesterday the original document had not been an agreement.
“The document says minutes of meeting,” he said, adding that management had not been at the meeting and had planned to review the minutes.
Dave Welsh, country director of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity, remained concerned about the treatment of independent unions.
“There are clearly . . . cases where C.CAWDU can’t negotiate,” he said, adding GMAC favoured government-aligned unions.
Loo said it was better to focus on whether unions were representing workers’ needs rather than their political affiliations.
Ea Chip Ieng, the personnel manager at SL, could not be reached yesterday.