Ocean Settles as Other Worker Strikes Gain Steam

Workers from the beleaguered Ocean Garment Factory on Monday came to an agreement with management over furlough pay, following more than a month of protests.

“All the workers at Ocean Garment Factory have accepted the offer from the factory and the strikes are finished now,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union Movement of Workers.

Mr. Sina said workers agreed to accept the factory’s offer of $100 payouts for senior employees and $50 for newer workers, after the factory suspended operations in May due to a lack of orders. The amount is below the $120 called for in a ruling by the Arbitration council, but the Ministry of Labor has pushed workers to accept the offer.

Separately, however, more than a thousand garment workers around the country Monday remained at loggerheads with their factories, prompting continued strikes over wages and benefits.

About 500 workers at the Teng Xun factory in Kompong Speu province went on strike Monday morning over demands that include the provision of lunch money, permission to have mobile phones at work and an end to their wages being taxed.

“Before we went on strike, the factory announced that workers who are earning $125 will have their wages cut by 5 percent in tax. But we did not agree to this,” said Sun Vannak, an employee at the factory, which makes women’s handbags.

Sar Chanthou, an official from the Free Trade Union, said negotiations failed between staff and management following the rejection of the factory’s tax proposal.

“In negotiations this morning the factory said that they would tax between 4,000 to 5,000 riel per day, but I believe that under 4,000 riel is enough,” he said

“We will continue to strike until they follow our request.”

Meanwhile, at the Sun Well Shoes factory in Phnom Penh, 900 workers Monday continued a strike that has been ongoing since last Tuesday after the factory’s administrative officer refused to meet their demands.

“Since the workers have gone on strike until now, the factory has not come to negotiate with us. If the General Manager came, then we might get some results,” said Sieng Sambath, president of the Worker Friendship Union Federation.

Vong Sovann, deputy general of labor conflicts at the Labor Ministry, said that striking workers should consider lowering their demands.

“If employees keep trying to demand advantages beyond the law, then it is hard for the Ministry of Labor…to resolve it,” he said.

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