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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Export fees to be cut to aid textile sector

Export fees to be cut to aid textile sector

PRIME Minister Hun Sen last week announced a 10 percent cut in

export fees on garments and appealed to workers to stop strikes in

order to avoid more turmoil in the already faltering sector.

"I have decided to reduce the export management fees and other charges by 10 percent to relieve pressure on you," Hun Sen said.

The

announcement was made Friday during the 14th Government-Private Sector

Forum following a request by Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment

Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC).

GMAC had asked for a  cut of 30 percent to assist exporters.

Hun

Sen also appealed to workers to stop striking, saying that Vietnam and

China are gaining a competitive advantage over Cambodia in terms of

productivity.

"I would like to appeal to labour unions that for the

time being, it is not the right time for strikes. It is the time to

take care of your rice pots," he said, adding that strikes would lead

to a drop in orders, the possible closure of factories and rising

unemployment.

"As of October of 2008, there have been 95 strikes - a

48 percent increase compared to the same period last year," said Nang

Sothy, chairman of the forum's industrial relations subcommittee.

Chea

Mony, president of the 80,000-member Free Trade Union of Cambodia, said

Sunday that workers do not want to stage strikes, but that they had no

choice.

"When workers have a dispute with employers, they can not rely on anyone to help, even the Ministry of Labour," he said.

"The

government has never cared about workers. For instance, 28 garment

factories recently closed and the bosses escaped without paying

workers. So, what can [workers] do if they do not stage the strikes?"

Chea Mony added.

Tens of thousands of workers have already been

laid off as garment orders drop due to decreased demand in the United

States, Cambodia's biggest buyer, and elsewhere.

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