A deal appears to have been reached to end a three-month long strike at SL Garment Processing, after management and workers agreed terms to bring the dispute to a close.

The workers have been on strike since August over demands for improved working conditions and the removal of a newly appointed manager.

But a statement from the Singapore-owned company, which produces clothing for apparel retailers including Gap Inc and H&M and employs around 5,000 local workers, says an agreement has now been reached that will enable all workers to return. 

Terms include the re-hiring of 19 previously fired union representatives and the removal of shareholder Meas Sotha, who allegedly hired military police officers to guard the premises so workers could not strike.

The factory also agreed to allow workers to continue working three shifts instead of a proposed two, adding that workers would be paid half of their salaries for the days when they took part in demonstrations. With the total estimated to reach US$1m, SL Garment said it is unable to find this amount, but that labour groups would negotiate with garment buyers to pay these salaries.

Workers are due to resume their normal shifts from today (4 December) although a two-week extension has been given to those who have to return from villages far from Phnom Penh.

However, it remains to be seen whether the dispute really has come to an end, since numerous court orders issued over the past few months were unable to quell the increasingly violent unrest.

Expert analysis

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