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Former garment workers protest sackings

Sen David / Khmer Times Share:
The fired workers protest yesterday. Supplied

More than 100 former workers from the W&D factory in Meanchey district yesterday held a protest to demand their reinstatement after they were sacked for inciting a strike.

Seang Yaut, a Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union legal officer, yesterday said the company fired 1,200 workers last month after they went on strike to demand seniority indemnity.

The factory then accepted most workers back, except for 127, after negotiations with Labour Ministry officials.

He said that in a letter on Wednesday, W&D announced that it would take back 1,173 workers and gave them three days to report for work.

The company said it would not take back the 127 workers because they incited the others to go on strike, Mr Yaut said.

“The company released the names of the 127 workers and said it would not reinstate them because it found that they persuaded the workers to strike which affected the company’s revenue,” he said.

Mr Yaut added that the 127 workers protested yesterday to demand reinstatement.

“They said they did not agree with the company’s reason for not accepting them back because all 1,200 of them went on strike together and the company should accept all of them back,” he said.

Mr Yaut added that the 127 workers filed a complaint with the Labour Ministry seeking intervention.

From December to early last month, workers at the factory went on strike to demand that the company pay seniority indemnity in a lump sum instead of in instalments.

Following a court order, the company then decided to sack 1,200 workers who did not comply with a ruling to go back to work. The 1,200 workers then appealed to the ministry to intervene, resulting in the 1,173 being reinstated.

Chea Sokha, a worker who was fired, yesterday said that the company discriminated against her and the others by not reinstating them.

“Most of us who were fired have worked for more than eight years, so the company did not want to pay us our seniority indemnity,” she said.

On January 16, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia issued a statement saying W&D’s termination of the striking workers was done in accordance with the law.

In a press release, GMAC said the company complied with the Labour Ministry’s Directive 443 when terminating them because the workers did not protest to demand better working conditions, but for the indemnity payments to be paid all at once instead of twice yearly as is the law.

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