Despite Employer’s Concessions, Workers Vow to Continue Protest

Workers at the Beautiful Spring Footwear factory in Takeo province refused to end a two-day protest on Saturday after management ceded to most of their demands but refused to raise their good-attendance bonus.

The factory’s roughly 1,000 workers started protesting outside the building on Friday, two days after a production-line manager allegedly threw a shoe at a pregnant woman.

In addition to seeing the line manager fired, the protesters’ 19 demands include an increase in their monthly bonus for good attendance from $10 to $15, a lunch allowance of about $1, more fans and more purified drinking water.

Tram Kak district deputy police chief Sok Sokchea, who attended negotiations at the factory on Saturday, said Sunday that the factory agreed to all the protesters’ demands—including the line manager’s termination—except the bonus increase because the factory had opened only recently and could not afford it.

“The negotiations will continue tomorrow [Monday], but it seems like it will not work because the factory could not meet the workers’ demands,” Mr. Sokchea said.

“We will deploy our forces to manage the situation to prevent workers from blocking the road or causing any violence,” he added.

Bun Vannak, whose Koun Khmer Labor Federation Union was called in by the protesters to help press their demands and who also joined Saturday’s negotiations, confirmed most of Mr. Sokchea’s account, but said the factory had not agreed to fire the line manager.

“We went to negotiate with the factory, but we did not reach an agreement with the factory because they did not meet our demands,” he said. “The workers are unhappy and will continue to protest on Monday.”

Puth Sina, one of the protesters, who said they make shoes for German brand Puma, also accused the factory of not giving them sick leave and pressuring them to work overtime when they did not want to.

“We don’t want to see the factory using violence and violating our rights, so we protest to demand our rights,” she said.

The factory was closed Sunday and representatives could not be reached for comment.

dara@cambodiadaily.com

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