Factory Ends Strike After Compromise

Workers at a Taiwanese-owned sandal factory in Kompong Cham province on strike since last week over an eight-point list of demands agreed to go back to work Tuesday after reaching a deal with management that included a monthly lunch stipend.

A few hundred of the Carlington Factory’s workers started protesting on July 21 with a list of demands that included a monthly $15 raise, a combined $15 per month for travel and lodging costs, $1 a day for lunch, and free lodging at the factory for the leaders of its 15-person work teams, which currently costs them $19.50 per month.

By Monday all of the factory’s roughly 2,000 workers had joined the strike, at which point some also started to burn tires outside of the building.

Workers at the factory, which makes sandals for U.S. brand Reef, are represented by the Voice of Khmer Youth Union Federation.

On Tuesday, union president Long Sophan said talks with the factory brokered by the provincial labor department had won them a couple of their demands, convincing the union to cancel the strike. He said the factory agreed to provide the workers a monthly food stipend of $5 and to cut the monthly rent for group of team leaders to $10.

“The workers will go back to work following the agreement between the two sides,” Mr. Sophan said.

Factory administration assistant Khim Vireak, who served as a translator for the Taiwanese director in the negotiations, confirmed the details of the deal reached with the union.

“Our director agreed with some of the workers’ points because he did not want the workers to go on strike any more days,” he said.

Mr. Vireak said the union in turn agreed to take the eight days they’ve been on strike out of the workers’ 18 days of annual leave, which Mr. Sophan confirmed.

Yoeun Srey Ean, an employee of the factory, said she was not happy with the compromise struck by the union but felt pressured to go back to work because a deal was made.

“I will start work again after the agreement between the worker and factory representatives,” she said. “I feel the result is not good enough, but I am forced to work and I have no choice.”

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