Labor Officials Promise Talks for Factory Workers

Phnom Penh municipal police chief Touch Naruth yesterday informs former employees of the June Textile factory in Sen Sok district that they must not disturb traffic by staging protests.

A day after severance payment talks broke down between union leaders and June Textile factory officials, 2,500 protesting employees of the destroyed factory were met by about 50 municipal police officers in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district yesterday morning.

At about 8 am, the demonstrators threatened to march along Russian Boulevard to a nearby factory owned by the same proprietor in order to draw out those workers to join the protest. However, police quickly arrived at the scene threatening to use force if the demonstration left the gates of the factory.

When Ministry of Labor officials arrived to address the demonstrators, the ministry agreed to mediate further negotiations between the factory and union leaders, calming protesters. According to On Sakhorn, secretary of the Voice of Khmer Youth Union Federation, workers demanded severance pay of $150 per year of service, while factory officials as of yesterday were only offering $20.

Factory administrator Meng Kri said the $20-per-year severance offer was sufficient because the factory, which burned down last month, did not close under normal circumstances. The severance talks are set to resume today.

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