One Garment Strike Ends, Two Begin, Over Missing Pay

Garment workers at a Kandal province factory ended their most recent strike Thursday after management agreed to pay out part of their wages for the days they were absent during a previous strike, while workers at a Phnom Penh factory went back on strike because their employers would not agree to give them strike pay.

About 3,000 employees of Kandal’s Quint Major Industrial went on strike this week to demand that the owners pay them at least half their wages for the days in December they had joined nationwide strikes demanding a higher minimum wage for the entire garment sector.

They ended their latest strike Thursday after the factory agreed to pay them 30 percent for the days they were on strike, said Seang Rithy, head of the Cambodian Labor Solidarity Union Federation.

“We signed a contract with the company representative that they pay 30 percent and other benefits that they cut during the strike, but the money will be paid next month because the company can’t pay us now,” he said.

Peter Pan, the factory’s Taiwanese manager, confirmed that the strikers had agreed to return to work after taking the 30 percent offer.

At the Canteran Apparel factory in Phnom Penh, however, some 1,800 workers Thursday resumed their strike over last month’s docked pay, but only after having briefly ended it the day before for fear of having even more of their wages cut, said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

“The workers demand that the company pay them during the strike, but they don’t agree and accuse all of them of striking illegally,” he said.

At yet another factory, Manhattan Textile in Kompong Cham province, about 600 workers were still on strike over last month’s docked pay for striking, and over the suspension of four union representative, according to  union and factory representatives.

Khem Veasna, deputy director of the provincial labor department, said his efforts to settle the dispute Thursday had failed.

“The meeting finished without a result because the company still says it will not pay for the strike time and they will not allow the four union leaders to return to work and accuses them of inciting workers to strike,” he said.

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