Workers End Strike Despite Refusal to Rehire Activist

More than 1,500 striking garment factory workers returned to work Tuesday, ending a two-day walkout but leaving the rehiring of a fired union activist up in the air, officials from both sides said.

After a meeting between the factory owner and representatives of the workers, the Gen Non factory agreed to rehire Seang Chanda, 18, and let her resume work today, said Phourng Motry, spokesman for Free Trade Union of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Management also agreed to let workers end work at 3 pm on Saturdays, the union chief said.

But management still refuses to rehire union activist Yun Chany because she is too unruly, said Meon Sophal, a Free Trade rep­resentative at the factory.

In a temper tantrum, Yun Chany stepped on some of the clothes at the factory. Also unresolved is the issue of overtime bonuses, Meon Sophal said.

The workers walked off the job Monday morning over the overtime issue and firings, but re­turned later when management promised to negotiate, Meon Sophal said.

Seang Chanda was fired be­cause she altered a company schedule, Meon Sophal said. The worker had asked for a full day off, but the company only gave her a half-day off. When Seang Chanda saw the schedule, she changed it, Meon Sophal said.

After the firings, the factory workers put their thumbprints on a petition asking to have the two workers rehired, Meon Sophal said. When management refused, they walked off the job.

Factory owner Gackay Mau acknowledged Tuesday that there was a strike but said it had been settled.

Management fired Yun Chany because she ruined very expensive clothing in the pro­test, Gen Non spokeswoman Hum Pesey said. But she said the company merely tried to transfer Seang Chanda to another section rather than fire her because she could not get along with her supervisor.

Hum Pesey also said the company wants to stop paying bonuses to new employees who miss more than 2 1/2 days in one pay period.

If the issues are not re­solved quickly, workers could return to the picket lines, Meon Sophal said, calling the factory’s actions “exploitation.”


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