A meeting supervised by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training between representatives of the W&D Cambodia garment factory and around 1,000 sacked workers failed to find a resolution to end the three-month labour dispute on Tuesday, said Hem Hoeurn, a senior ministry official.
The workers’ representatives demanded factory owners unconditionally reinstate the fired staff to their previous positions, Hoeurn told The Post, while the owners cited legal frameworks and accused the workers of not following the Arbitration Council’s orders and ultimately those of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
They said the company would enforce the decision of the court.
“Because both parties held tight to their positions during negotiations, the meeting ended without an agreement. That was very unfortunate. Regardless of the result, the ministry will try to smooth progress on the issue and find a resolution to the labour dispute,” Hoeurn said.
No seniority indemnity
Saing Chanry, one of six workers’ representatives permitted at the meeting, told The Post afterwards that agents for the factory did not regard them as true representatives of the workers.
“The factory said we [representatives] had incited [the workers] to participate in the protests, even though this is untrue. All of us were workers, there was no one then acting as a representative. At our previous demonstration, we demanded the factory give us seniority indemnity.
“However, after listening to explanations from experts from the Ministry of Labour and the Arbitration Council, we only want the factory to rehire us without any conditions or discrimination,” Chanry said.
She said more than 100 of the 1,104 fired factory workers have continued to protest in front of the factory demanding their jobs back.
W&D Cambodia lawyer Taing Meng told The Post on Tuesday that he had tried to inform workers not to demand anything outside the confines of the law.
“We tried to remind them and explain to them that the factory follows the law, and any demands that the law does not permit cannot be granted because the factory follows and adheres to Cambodian laws,” he said.
The dispute between W&D Cambodia and its workers initially began on December 24, after a protest in which workers demanded they be paid seniority indemnity and other benefits.
However, the factory rejected their demands, claiming they were contradictory to Ministry of Labour Directive 443, dated September 21 last year, which requires companies pay seniority indemnity twice per year, in June and December.