Workers Submit Petition to Gov’t Over Labor Law, Severance Pay

About 40 workers from Phnom Penh’s Meroson garment factory delivered a petition signed by 700 of their colleagues to a representative of Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday, calling on the premier to intervene in their dispute over what they say is the factory’s failure to pay proper severance upon firing them.

The workers has been protesting on and off at the factory since they were fired on March 11, and the union leading them rejected the results of talks mediated by the government last week.

Former employees of the Meroson garment factory in Phnom Penh hold a banner that reads 'Samdech Hun Sen is the only hope for our workers' during a protest at Wat Botum park on Tuesday morning. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Former employees of the Meroson garment factory in Phnom Penh hold a banner that reads ‘Samdech Hun Sen is the only hope for our workers’ during a protest at Wat Botum park on Tuesday morning. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Un Dara, president of the Conscious Labor Independence Federation, said some of the 45 workers were sacked while working without a contract, and thus initially denied severance pay despite having worked at the factory for up to two years.

“They are asking for severance payments, compensation for being fired without notice, their last month’s pay and an annual bonus,” Mr. Dara said.

According to the country’s Labor Law, employers are obliged to pay workers 5 percent of what they would have made during their contract. If an employee continues working after a short-term contract expires, it is automatically renewed for the same amount of time as the original contract.

In a meeting at the Labor Ministry last week, factory representatives agreed to pay all of the sacked workers 5 percent severance, an offer that Mr. Dara said the workers did not accept.

Prak Chanthoeun, director-general at the Labor Ministry’s labor conflict department, said the factory would still pay workers on Thursday.

“[W]e are not clear how many workers have a contract and how many don’t, but if they have 3-month contracts, the factory has to pay 5 percent after each contract,” he said.

Kim Thay, director of administration at Meroson factory, declined to comment on the dispute.

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