Factory Says Strikers Have Lost Their Jobs

Employees who are still pro­testing an increase in their workload and bad conditions at the Ming Da shoe factory cannot come back to work, factory officials said Monday.

During an arbitration meeting at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor, Vocational Training and Youth Rehabilitation, Yean Seav, representative for the Taiwanese-owned Ming Da factory in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kok district, said the strikers have lost their jobs.

Khiev Savouth, who handles labor disputes for the ministry, adjourned Monday’s meeting until this afternoon in order for the factory’s management to either reconsider the sacking decision or to agree to pay compensation to the fired workers.

“The company says that be­cause you did not come to work, they consider that to be abandoning your work,” Khiev Savouth said during the meeting. “Now [the ministry] demands that if you do not get your job, then you get [compensation] money ac­cording to the law.”

Representatives for the striking workers said the sacking will af­fect between 70 and 100 people who are still protesting.

Around 200 workers at the factory went on strike Wednesday to protest the introduction of new production practices that deman­ded workers sew a minimum of 12 pairs of shoes in an eight-hour shift, which they say is beyond their capabilities.

Striking workers said they can sew only eight pairs of shoes in a shift and workers who have not been able to meet the new quota are being fired without compensation. They said workers are sometimes forced to sew as many as 16 pairs a day and must work up to 14 hours a day to finish them.

Strikers also complained that conditions at the factory were deplorable and that workers are forced to work seven days a week without holidays.

Khiev Savouth recommended that the factory set their work quota at eight pairs of shoes in an eight-hour shift.

But each shoe produced above that number should be rewarded with an extra 500 or 1,000 riel by the company, on top of the government recommended $45 per month minimum salary for textile workers, Khiev Savouth added.

A manager at the Ming Da factory who wished to remain anon­ymous said Monday the new quota system at the factory in Tuol Kok was still lower than the production levels at a second Ming Da factory in Phnom Penh where workers can produce 14 pairs of shoes in a 7.5-hour shift.

A shoe industry insider also said Monday that efficiency at the Ming Da factory was below other shoe factories in Cambodia and that low production was the reason the factory recently changed hands and came under Ming Da’s management.

Chea Vichea, head of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said Monday that sacking strikers is against the labor law and will be protested.

(Additional reporting by Ana Nov)


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