Striking garment workers from two factories in Phnom Penh have refused to return to work until they have their benefits paid as stipulated by the Labour Law, despite a Labour Ministry letter ensuring them that they will get their benefits.
Last week, thousands of garment workers from Seduno Investment Cambo Fashion rallied to demand their severance pay before the end of the year in Dangkor district, while thousands more working from the W&D factory in Meanchey district also rallied over unpaid seniority indemnity.
According to the Labour Law, factories must pay workers a seniority payment every six months; factories must also pay severance upon conclusion of an employment contract.
The Labour Ministry on Friday issued a statement asking all factory workers to remain calm and trust that all benefits they are lawfully entitled to will be provided in due time.
However, an unnamed garment worker for Seduno Investment Cambo Fashion said that the striking workers do not trust the company enough to give it the benefit of the doubt.
“We have been protesting for about five days now and we demand our seniority indemnity and severance pay from the company,” she said. “We are demonstrating in front of the factory to put pressure on them to pay us.”
“The ministry has ensured that we have nothing to be afraid of, but we are afraid the company will not follow it,” she added. “We need the company to give us our seniority pay – we do not want to wait because some workers are old and sick, and we are afraid the pay will be lost to us.”
So Vanna, a W&D garment factory worker, yesterday said her company attempted to pay their benefits in instalments, starting in April.
The offer has fractured the unity of the W&D workers, with some agreeing to it, she said.
“The company has agreed to make payments beginning in April, but workers want it in January,” Ms Vanna said. “Some people agreed with the offer, while others did not.”
Dy Rotha Kemrun, deputy governor of Meanchey district, yesterday said local authorities negotiated with W&D to provide benefits via instalments.
However, Mr Rotha Kemrun said the deal was not accepted by the workers, noting that local authorities will continue to work with both sides.
“We will continue to find a solution both sides can accept,” he said, noting that the strikes have not affected public order. “The workers stopped demonstrating in public roads after we’ve intervened.”