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More Protests Over Factory Closing

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Almost 600 garment workers from the Malaysian-owned Global Apparel Limited garment factory protested yesterday morning by marching from the factory to another branch 200 meters away, demanding the owners end all worker contracts at the same time.
The dispute stems from an announcement by the factory last week that it would be closing in October and would not be offering to renew any employee contracts once they finished, leaving many workers, especially those whose contracts ended only one day after the announcement, without enough time to find a new job. All contracts ending after May 31 will not be renewed, the owners said. Most employees have 6-month contracts that end in either May, July or October.
Last Thursday workers from the Por Senchey factory successfully submitted a petition to the Arbitration Council, demanding assistance from the government in dealing with the factory, which has refused to budge on its decision despite the outcry and protests.
Workers are also incensed because the factory owners also hold majority stakes in other nearby factories. None of their other factories are closing, despite the owners’ continued claims of impending bankruptcy, leaving many Global Apparel Limited employees puzzled.
Srey Leak, a 32-year-old worker and team leader at the factory, said yesterday that about 600 workers decided to walk to the main office of Global Apparel Limited to make their demands known to the factory owner.  
“The owner announced the closing of Global Apparel Limited factory in October and did not continue the contracts for those who finish in May and the following months until October,” she said. “But we want our employer to renew all worker contracts and make sure all workers finish their contracts at the same time.”
On May 30, factory director Teo Hock Lim issued an announcement saying the factory will completely stop production on October 31 due to a lack of orders and an impending bankruptcy.  
To “ensure the process runs smoothly” and in accordance with the Labor Law, Mr. Hock Lim said they will not renew any contracts ending on May 31 and in the subsequent months until October. The majority of the 1,000 workers at the factory, more than 600 people, had contracts ending on May 31, and most workers were livid that they not only were losing their jobs, but were told on such short notice. Ms. Leak said factory employees had not worked there since the announcement and threatened the factory owners with more protests if all contracts are not renewed or ended at the same time.  
“The factory has to pay some compensation and benefits to the workers through the Labor Law,” Ms. Leak said. “Global Apparel Limited and the GIT factory are owned by the same person, but we wonder why the GIT is still working and Global Apparel Limited has to close.”
She said the factory promised workers they would announce the results of an internal meeting about the employee demands, but no announcement has been made.  
Officials at Global Apparel Limited could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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