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The few who stayed at home to strike

The week-long stay-at-home strike proposed by all 18 union groups might have been postponed until after Khmer New Year, but last week four of the unions decided to continue with their own.

The unions and workers who back a strike have asked for a $160 minimum monthly garment wage as well as the release of 21 workers and unionists arrested in early January.

Last Friday, in shared accommodation off National Road 2, where many factories are located, some workers had decided to remain at home.

Long Naty, 26, lives inside a pagoda complex with her mother and sister, who are also both garment workers. They rent a small section of a shared floor. Their corner, measuring roughly 2.5 metres by 2 metres, is marked out by a sheet. She is not worried about her job, she said.

“This is just a small part of the protests – there are many protests in Cambodia now.”

Breang Sopheap, 33, works at the same factory and lives on the other side of National Road 2, down a narrow alley filled with rubble.

She believes that if all the workers in Cambodia join together, there might be change. “Two factories are not powerful,” she said, in between sewing pajama collars which she sells for extra money.

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