Severance payment talks stalled again yesterday as 2,500 employees of the gutted June Textile factory in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district gathered at the site of the factory, demanding a better severance package.
Union leaders met with factory officials in the morning, but were unable to come up with a resolution, as the factory continues to say it does not have the funds to increase its offer.
“The company/employer doesn’t have the ability to pay them more than $20 per year of work at the factory,” said Meng Kri, who is an administrator for June Textile.
“If a worker chooses so, they can have it now.”
Former factory workers have been protesting outside the factory since it burned down on March 31, demanding $150 per year of employment at the factory. But factory officials haven’t budged on their initial $20 per year offer.
“About the difficulties of the workers, I understand, but the factory also has difficulties because the company is not generating revenue as it isn’t running,” Mr Kri said.
However, union leaders said that the situation is becoming dire for some workers.
“Some workers are getting sick because they do not have enough food to eat, not enough water to drink and not enough money to pay their rent,” said Worker’s Right and Profit Union Federation representative Oeurn Sam Ath.
Pheng Chuo, a worker representative from the Free Trade Union, said union leaders need to put more pressure on the company.
“If there is no proper solution, the workers will continue to protest, starting tomorrow, when we will march to the other factory,” she said, referring to Violet Factory, one kilometer away from June Textile, which shares the same owner.
Sen Sok deputy police chief Cheng Mony Ra said police reiterated to protesters yesterday that they would not be allowed to march outside the factory gates.
“We have addressed them clearly about the protests. They can make their protest, but cannot disturb public order.”
The next round of negotiations is set for May 11.