More than 4,000 workers from M&V International Manufacturing’s factory in Kampong Chhnang province were set to continue striking outside the factory today, after negotiations between management and Free Trade Union representatives broke down again on Saturday.
Pov Sitha, director of Kampong Chhnang province’s Department of Labour and Vocational Training, said yesterday that the Free Trade Union declined to settle with the factory because it refused to reinstate 20 workers who had been allegedly fired in September for attempting to form a union.
Negotiations between management and union representatives initially broke down last Thursday. Workers began striking that afternoon in protest and continued through to Saturday.
Free Trade Union president Chea Mony said yesterday that the firing of the 20 workers in question was illegal because they had been employed for more than two years and as such, they were entitled to a fixed contract that could not be terminated.
“The company abused the law by ending the workers’ contracts just because they formed a union and pushed for rights,” he said.
M&V administration officer Im Mun said he did not know anything about the strike and referred questions to the factory owner, who could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The company abused the law by ending the workers’ contracts just because they formed a union and pushed for rights
Pov Sitha said that the workers’ strike was illegal because the Arbitration Council had not yet delivered its ruling.
“I sent a report to the Arbitration Council to resolve the dispute, but no order has been issued yet,” he said.
M&V factory, which supplies knitwear for popular global retailer H&M, has been embroiled in controversy over the past few months. In addition to last month’s disputed firings, there were two mass fainting incidents at the factory in August, spurring investigations by the labour ministry, the International Labour Organisation and H&M.
A spokesman for H&M said last week that the findings from its investigation were being finalised. He also said the company was in contact with both M&V and the FTU.
Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said that “only the court has the authority to declare on the legality of a strike”.
When questioned about the spate of issues occurring at the GMAC facility, Ken Loo said that GMAC was a monitoring agency, which does not necessarily “guarantee that things will be 100 per cent problem-free”.
“An auditing function does not help prevent problems, it just helps identify them,” he said.
“We advise our members the right way of doing things in accordance with the laws and regulations, but it’s up to factory management to take our advice and act on our recommendations.”