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W&D demands gov’t reimbursement

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W&D factory workers protest in the vicinity of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in the capital on March 18. Heng Chivoan

W&D demands gov’t reimbursement

W&D (CAMBODIA) Co Ltd has demanded that the government compensate its loss in exchange for the reinstatement of more than 1,000 factory workers who were sacked due to their alleged involvement in a series of protests against the company since December.

The demand marked the latest development in a three-month dispute between W&D and the workers.

On Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on W&D to reinstate the fired workers who he said were incited by some people to stage the protests, which resulted in their sacking.

He also assigned the Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng to be a mediator and solve the dispute.

W&D lawyer Taing Meng told The Post on Tuesday that Monday’s “fruitless” negotiations resulted in a new outcome on Tuesday.

He said his client would reinstate the sacked factory workers if the government agrees to be responsible for and compensate the loss “suffered by the company”. However, Meng did not elaborate on the details of the compensation.

“Regarding W&D’s loss .  .  . what would the government do to help in exchange for the workers’ reinstatement? We have abided by the laws up to now,” he said.

Along with the demand for compensation, the company also called for “clear principles” to assure that the workers would not create “new problems” after they are reinstated.

The W&D director-general, who only gave his name as Jimmy, said during a press conference on March 10 that the company has suffered a loss of more than $1 million since its workers started their protests in December.

The loss, he said, was due to late delivery to buyers. “The direct loss was $850,000 within these two months, and there are other indirect losses such as late delivery to buyers.

“Transporting by air is costly and when we are late, the buyers impose a fine on us. We don’t know how much exactly, but as per our rough calculation, it is about $1.2 million.”

Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour said on Tuesday that the ministry would “continue the coordination with the factory side over the compensation demand and assurances”, without specifying further details.

One of the workers, Kim San, said they all have been waiting for the reinstatement of the sacked employees since the prime minister made a statement.

“Hopefully the company will agree to accept all [sacked employees], without discriminating against anyone.”

The dispute between W&D and its workers initially began on December 24 when the latter went on strike that day, demanding the factory owner pay them seniority indemnity before implementing a new law that requires a payment of the seniority indemnity every six months.

The company then dismissed 1,104 workers on grounds that the workers failed to follow its court-supported ultimatum that required them to return to work within 48 hours.

The workers responded to the ultimatum by occupying the factory, with their representatives saying they would not give in until their demands are met.

The dispute has lingered on with some workers marching to deliver their petitions to relevant institutions, demanding a reinstatement of the sacked workers.

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