A representative of the W&D Garment Company yesterday said it lost about $1 million after more than 1,000 of its workers held rallies over two months.
A strike began last year as more than 1,000 garment workers demanded unpaid benefits, such as seniority indemnity. The workers were warned by the company and Phnom Penh Municipal Court that they would be fired if they did not return to work.
Company general manager Jimmy Hsu said during a press conference yesterday the company’s loss is attributed to a dip in productivity during rallies in January and February.
“After the strike was carried out, the company lost clients because we were not able to deliver their products on time,” Mr Hsu said. “We had to compensate our clients because of the delay. The company lost $1.2 million in the two months of this year when the workers were on strike.”
He noted that W&D first started operation in Cambodia in 1998 with 600 workers and that it had employed 1,729 workers.
“The company has been operating in Cambodia for 22 years,” Mr Hsu said. “So the company hopes that we can continue to provide jobs to Cambodian workers.”
Kaing Monika, deputy secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, yesterday said the strike began on December 24 with 1,729 workers and that a total of 814 returned to work.
He said that the company decided to fire those who did not return to work after failing to comply with the company and Phnom Penh Municipal Court orders.
According to Mr Monika, those who were sacked are free to apply for a position at the company again, but noted that about 20 people have been blacklisted due to incitement.
“The company will not recruit them because they persuaded workers to protest, block the road, block the factory’s door, which affect the right to work and the company’s budget,” he said. “As for workers who are still protesting, it is their right, but the company still has to follow the law. [The workers] are still welcomed to work, but they have to apply to become new workers.”
Mr Monika noted that it is important for the company to fulfil its obligations with its clients.
“If a buyer makes a big order from the company, the company will need many new workers,” he said.
Garment worker Kong Sopheap said many of her colleagues will not accept being classified as new workers by the company.
“It means that we would be new-comers – so the benefits that we have gained over the years will be lost. Some people worked there for five to 10 years,” Ms Sopheap said. “We will continue to rally because we cannot agree to become new workers.”