Thousands Strike for Benefits at Phnom Penh Garment Factory

Maternity leave, severance packages and annual bonuses demanded

More than 4,300 garment workers yesterday went on strike for a second day at June Textiles garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district, demanding in­creased benefits including year-end bonuses and three months of maternity leave, protesters and factory officials said.

The workers, members of the Free Trade Union, are demanding $10 annual bonuses and severance packages that include $70 for each year worked at the factory, said Pheng Chou, an FTU representative at the factory.

“The protest continued on Fri­day after a meeting organized by the factory’s administration with union leaders did not resolve the issues,” she said, adding that the strike would continue until de­mands are met.

Meng Kry, chief of the factory’s administration office, called the strike illegal as the union only made requests on Tuesday and did not notify the factory seven days ahead of time, as required by law.

He said Ms Chou was unwilling to negotiate and wait for the demands to be properly translated to the factory’s Chinese-speaking owners, he said.

“She made the requests at 4 pm Tuesday the 14th at my office. We took time to translate [the de­mands] into Chinese for my boss to understand and we’ll discuss later,” he said. “She led an illegal protest.”

Chea Mony, president of the FTU, said some progress had been made in negotiations yesterday, but that he did not know if the strike would continue.

“The company should find a fair solution or discuss the requests before the workers began protesting,” he said.

Oum Mean, secretary of state for the Labor Ministry, declined to comment yesterday.

Albert Teow, an administration official at the factory, said that the factory complies with the labor law, and that only a small number of factory’s workers had decided to strike.

“Like most of the strikes in Cam­bodia, this strike is illegal,” he said “They did not go through the legal process.”

  (Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)           


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