7 February, 2024In a victory for organizing, Pontus Footwear in Cambodia has agreed to reinstate three local union leaders from Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW). This follows over a year of engagement with American brand VFC who sources from the factory.
In October 2022, workers at Pontus established a CUMW branch and registered with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training. In response, company management threatened four workers to resign from the union, which led to their termination in January 2023.
In a letter a month later, IndustriALL Global called on Pontus to reinstate the workers without any delay and to respect workers' right to organize. With no concrete response from the company, CUMW, with the help of IndustriALL, engaged with VFC representatives in Cambodia to set up a mediation meeting with Pontus.
Nearly a year and several meetings later, Pontus management and CUMW signed an agreement on 28 January this year, where company agreed to reinstate three of the terminated workers in the first week of February with back pay. Both parties have agreed to build harmonious industrial relations and avoid retaliatory actions.
CUMW president Pav Sina says:
“We would like to profoundly thank IndustriALL for engaging with VFC brand to set up a mediation meeting with the company management of Pontus Footwear, until the case’s closure on 28 January by reaching a joint agreement with their mutual signatures as well.”
IndustriALL director of textile and garment industries Christina Hajagos-Clausen, says:
“I congratulate CUMW on the union win. This struggle shows the importance of engaging brands and suppliers in resolving labour-management conflicts. IndustriALL will continue to support our affiliates to protect human and workers’ rights in the global supply chain.”
Photo: Marcel Crozet / ILO