Just as a solution to a two-week-long dispute at two SL Garment factories seemed over on Saturday, the company’s owner issued a statement refusing to recognise an agreement that had lured more than 5,000 employees back to work.
The protesters, who walked out of the SL Garment Processing (Cambodia)’s factories in the capital on March 12, resumed work on Saturday believing they would be paid for the strike period, Ek Sopheakdey, legal officer at the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said.
Workers, management and Ministry of Social Affairs officials signed an agreement on a range of points on Friday, including that bosses withdraw complaints against union officials and that workers accept rent and travel allowances of $7 per month, he said.
Upon returning to work on Saturday, however, they had discovered 23 of their representatives were not allowed back.
“The employer [also] did not withdraw complaints against them [and] was unwilling to negotiate,” Ek Sopheakdey said.
SL Garment issued a statement on Saturday denying it had reached an agreement.
“There was no document signed by the company’s management during the May 25 meeting,” the statement, signed by Singaporean owner Wong Hon Ming, reads.
Ea Chip Ieng, personnel manager at SL Garment, said a document had been signed, but it had not been an agreement.
“That is a meeting note,” he said. “It is not an agreement between the employer and workers.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]