After Talks, Workers Return to Jobs at M&V Garment Factory

A weekslong strike by more than 2,000 workers from a Phnom Penh factory that supplies global fashion brand H&M ended Wednesday after unions scaled down their original demands and backed down over a condition that workers receive their full salaries for the strike period, representatives said.

On Monday, Meanchey district security guards blocked about 500 employees from M&V International Manufacturing factory from marching to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house as they continued to call for 17 improvements to working conditions, including a rise in monthly transport allowances from $10 to $15 and a $1 per day lunch supplement for all workers.

But after a day of negotiations Tuesday, representatives from 10 different unions settled for damage limitation, accepting half-salaries for the strike period, which began May 19.

Khoen Namhor, vice president of the Cambodia Federation Voices of Workers union, said that attendance bonuses would be unaffected, while the company had agreed to raise overtime supplements by 500 riel to 3,000 riel (about $0.75).

Mr. Namhor added all workers returned to their jobs Wednesday but negotiations were ongoing.

“[I]f the factory does not respect the agreement we will go back to our protest again,” he said.

Yin Nak, director of administration at the factory, confirmed that both sides had signed an agreement and that other remaining issues would be brought before the Arbitration Council.

“We don’t want the strike continuing for a long time as it would impact the benefits to both workers and the company,” he said, adding that the company had already suffered an undisclosed but substantial loss of profits during the strike.

He claimed the industrial action was precipitated by unions fighting over members in the factory.

Lim Sokiet, a 30-year-old who has worked at the factory for more than 14 years, said the unions had made too many compromises.

“I returned to work today but I am not happy with this agreement,” she said.

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