More than 300 Cintri (Cambodia) Ltd waste collection workers walked off the picket line and returned to their jobs on Saturday following a strike that started on October 2.
Some returning workers, however, are still demanding the company meet certain demands, which include seniority and year-end payments.
Their return followed a letter issued on Saturday by the Arbitration Council ordering them to resume work.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey told The Post on Sunday that some strikers have not returned to work.
“The Phnom Penh Municipal Hall and the company will continue to coordinate with those workers who still protest,” he said.
Tes Rokaphal, secretary-general of the Ministry’s General Secretariat of the Committee for the Resolution of Strikes and Demonstrations, told The Post on Sunday that if workers still refuse to return to work on the orders of the Arbitration Council, the council might drop the matter without taking worker demands into consideration.
“The best choice is to stop this strike. The best and most peaceful approach is they look for a lawyer to represent them in talks while they continue to return to work,” he said.
Rokaphal said the municipal hall’s announcement that it would recruit new workers was not wrong under the labour law concerning public services, including rubbish collection, hospital services or services at airports.
“They have to notify employers of a pending strike and negotiate internally until it goes to the Arbitration Council. Sometimes, trade unions mislead workers on the law. They cannot block basic public services,” he explained.
Rokaphal used a private hospital as an example.
“They [the hospital] cannot just leave patients and go on strike. It’s the same with rubbish collection services,” he said.
Lawyer Ly Chantola has previously told The Post the law allows employers the right to recruit new workers to replace striking ones.
“The service affects public order and public health,” he said.
Tourism Federation secretary-general Mi Phan said most of the workers had yet to return because they still demand at least two points – seniority and year-end payments. He said if the company agrees to the points, they will return to work.
“Those who return to work are road sweepers. But cart pushers and rubbish truck workers still refuse to return to work. They are worried about job losses, but what they are most worried about is the loss of seniority. They have worked with the company for a long time and they demand their seniority payments from 2008 to 2019 be addressed,” he said.
Rokaphal said the workers have every right to make demands, but how they went about the strike was wrong and poorly executed.
“Workers don’t know the law and others led them astray with false promises. The unions promised the workers, for example, they would each get $10,000,” he said.
He said the company has yet to terminate the employee contracts. If the workers demand that Cintri terminate the contracts, it means that they dissolve the contracts on their own. If that happens, they only get last wages and unused annual leave.