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Some 1,000 Workers Still Jobless After Protests Prompted Mass Layoffs


Hundreds of factory workers staged a strike demanding seniority pay from W&D Cambodia Co., LTD, Saturday, January 5, 2019. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)

Workers have reported that the factory has refused to reinstate male and senior staff members.

More than 1,000 garment workers have lost their jobs following days of protest calling for wages to be paid for December.

The workers were laid off by W&D Cambodia Co. leading to a strike on January 5. W&D Cambodia had refused to pay the former staff for the month of December, according to the workers.

Workers have reported that the factory has refused to reinstate male and senior staff members.

Ya Kimsrim, 36, a garment worker, told VOA Khmer on Monday: “We held this strike peacefully. This is a non-violent strike. We demand that they take back all the workers, not just choosing young female ones while old-aged and male workers are not chosen. Please don't do that. If they do that, it is as if they're taking in new workers, leaving behind old ones.”

She said that the factory asked the workers to sign agreements in exchange for being able to resume their jobs. But they are yet to be reinstated.

“They said they would let us come back to work. However, only 200 have so far... They choose only the young ones, not the old ones,” Kimsrim said.

“In the letter, they asked us to agree. If we want to go back to work, just sign and provide a thumbprint. So we did just that. We didn’t know that after we provided the thumbprint, the supervisor would discriminate. They take in [workers] selectively even after intervention by the ministry and deputy Stung Meanchey district officer,” said another worker, 45, who asked not to be named for security reasons.

Ath Thon, president of Cambodian Labor Confederation (CLC), told VOA Khmer on Tuesday that there will be a negotiation among related parties to help get the workers back to work.

According to workers, W&D Cambodia had refused to pay the former staff last month, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, January 5, 2019. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)
According to workers, W&D Cambodia had refused to pay the former staff last month, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, January 5, 2019. (Hul Reaksmey/VOA Khmer)

He said that the negotiation will be held on Wednesday with the union raising many proposals from the workers, one of which is a demand that the factory does not hold any grudge against the workers for the protest.

“Firstly, we want to see them back to work. Secondly, we ask them [the factory owners] not to hold any grudge or ask for compensation. We will raise all the proposals from the workers,” he said.

A representative of W&D Cambodia Co declined to comment.

VOA Khmer could not reach Ministry of Labor spokesman Heng Sour on Tuesday.

The protests demanding annual seniority payment erupted in factories in Phnom Penh and other provinces since December, prompting a warning from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who said that the protests are against the law and workers’ demands could lead to the closure of 800 of the more than 1000 factories in Cambodia.

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