No Resolution in Water Bottling Plant Dispute

Workers from a local water bottling factory walked away empty-handed from a municipal court hearing Friday morning, with company officials refusing to budge on demands to compensate or rehire workers who were fired after a December strike.

Workers at the MPP Co’s bottled water factory want a union leader and other workers hired back at the factory after they were fired following a strike in Decem­ber. But the factory—which makes Ozone and Pure Drop brand bottled water, and Cheer Up fruit juice—maintains it was within its rights to fire the workers, because under their regulations, anyone who misses work without an excuse can be dismissed.

Workers from MPP distributed leaflets earlier in the week calling for consumers to boycott the com­pany’s products. A factory official said the boycott was an attempt to influence the court’s decision.

One union leader was fired by the company after a Dec 29 strike, said Lean Chinda, a Legal Aid of Cambodia attorney who is representing the workers. After that 73 more people who protested that firing were also terminated, she said.

The court hearing Friday was supposed to produce “a reconciliation” between the two parties, she said. Workers want their jobs back or $500 per head for being fired in what they call a violation of the labor law.

Workers say they were wrongfully discharged without proper notification, and should receive compensation for that as well, Lean Chinda said.

No compromise was reached Friday, she said. “Not at all.”

A company spokeswoman said Friday she was unaware of further developments in the case.

Municipal Court Judge Oun Bunna told both parties they should try to reach a compromise before he reviews evidence, Lean Chinda said. “We will go to court again,” she said.

The courts will now issue a written request for evidence from both sides to further review the case, Lean Chinda said.



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