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Workers win seniority pay

Workers win seniority pay

A six-month standoff that eventually halted a box factory’s production ended on Friday, when managers of the factory in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district paid seniority bonuses to almost 150 former employees.

Harta Packaging Industries paid bonuses of between $500 and $4,000 to a total of 145 former workers after an agreement was reached at the Ministry of Labour on Thursday, So Pheakdey, Harta’s administrative manager, said yesterday.

Payments came after more than 200 former workers and unionists had blocked the shipments in and outside the factory since the previous Saturday.

“The dispute between workers and the company was resolved, since the company followed the Arbitration Council’s order,” said Sorn Bora, a former Harta production manager and president of the Workers Friendship Union in the factory.

On May 31, the council ruled that the factory, which changed ownership in 2012, must pay seniority bonuses to 206 former factory workers. During Thursday’s meeting, the factory and union agreed that only 145 former workers were eligible.

When Harta’s former Malaysian owners sold the factory to its current owners, new management fired about 200 people, to whom they paid bonuses. At that time, about 285 workers demanded their seniority exit bonuses without leaving.

Many of the 285 were later fired and those who were not considered for payment on Friday had already stopped demanding bonuses.

As that conflict ended, another arose on Saturday morning at the same industrial park, when workers from the Hong Kong Ju Feng factory blocked the park’s gates from 8:30 to 10, demanding Canadia’s owner pay bonuses after factory owners skipped town earlier this month.

Canadia already paid $100,000 in settling workers’ May and June salaries, said Chor Rong, a worker there.

“We will continue protesting and block the gate again tomorrow if negotiation fails,” Rong said yesterday.

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