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Agreement ends SL Garment strike in Cambodia

19 December, 2013IndustriALL affiliate C.CAWDU and SL Garment Processing sign an agreement to end a three-month long strike in Cambodia, including the re-hiring of 19 dismissed union representatives, payment of half of the lost wages and the removal of a newly appointed manager.

After more than five months of dispute, including strikes that were violently repressed by the police, SL Garment Processing and C.CAWDU reached an agreement in early December.

The agreement facilitated by the Ministry of Labour stipulates the reinstatement of 19 fired union leaders, in addition to 90% of workers who have returned to work. The company agreed to pay to the workers 50 percent of the wages lost during the strike, totalling a million USD. All lawsuits against CCAWDU will be dropped. Shareholder Meas Sothas who hired military police to attack workers will be taken off all operational management duties. The ministry formed a committee of government, labor and industry officials to oversee the agreement’s implementation.

The implementation of the agreement, notably the payment of the back wages still need careful monitoring from the Ministry of Labour and IndustriALL. Continued dialogue between the union and the management is also needed on working conditions in the factory that sparked the strike. IndustriALL, with the support of buyers such as H&M, Inditex and GAP, is committed to ensuring that this dialogue takes place and industrial relations are strengthened to prevent a similar crisis.

C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn commented:

This is a very good decision by the employer…. On the workers’ side, we will keep trying to strengthen our good relationship with the employers and other workers in the factory.

IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle who played a major role in the negotiations with the buyers, said:

Building mature industrial relations with the unions is not only beneficial for the workers, but also for the management and ultimately for the country. This agreement is an important milestone towards constructive, non-violent labour-management relations in Cambodia.