Canteran Workers Take Partial Compensation but Continue Protest

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Workers camp outside Phnom Penh’s Canteran Apparel factory on Veng Sreng Blvd on July 21, 2022. (Hean Rangsey/VOD)

Some 320 Phnom Penh workers who have been protesting and camping outside their shuttered garment factory for months have taken partial compensation as arranged by the Labor Ministry, but are keeping up their labor action saying they want the remainder paid out.

Workers at Canteran Apparel say the factory closed down without notice and without paying compensation, and they have kept watch over the premises since March to prevent management from removing equipment and not paying them.

San Sopha, a protesting worker, said everyone had agreed to take the partial compensation, but it only covered three items out of five they believed they were entitled to.

They nevertheless accepted the payout “because of our financial struggles, and also this money is from the government, which is rare to get,” Sopha said. “But even after we received these three points, we will continue to file complaints against the factory for the two remaining points.” 

The workers are discussing filing a complaint to the court, and they will also continue to sleep in front of the factory until they can get full compensation, she said.

Say Somchea has become a motodop driver since the factory closed, but was sitting in front of the factory Thursday morning before heading out for the day. He had worked for Canteran for more than three and a half years, he said.

The compensation he received was around $400, but he believed he was owed $1,180 total, he said.

“I agreed to take the three points first as compensation to cover my living. But I am still demanding the two more points and continue to come in front of the factory,” Somchea said.

Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour, however, said legal obligations had now been fulfilled. Workers could continue to protest if they wished, but there had no further legal standing, he said.

The three points of compensation so far given are for the final month’s salary, unused annual leave, and seniority bonuses accrued before 2019.

The remaining two points are compensation for the lack of a notice period and emotional damages.

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