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Beer promoters ‘banished’ for striking

120829_05b

Angkor Beer promoters protest outside the Cambrew headquarters in Phnom Penh last year. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post

Angkor Beer promoters involved in last August’s strike over unpaid overtime have been banished to less popular restaurants and beer gardens in the past year, a report on the profession says.

According to Promoting Decency? Report on the Situation of Beer Promotion Workers in Cambodia, released this month by Dutch organisation the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), those promoters are members of the strike’s organiser, the Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation.

“Beer promotion workers affiliated with CFSWF already faced some discrimination compared to those affiliated with the yellow union,” the report says, referring to the Trade Union Workers Federation of Progress Democracy, the dominant union among Cambrew’s beer promoters.

“The CFSWF reports that 21 beer promotion workers who participated in the strike were sanctioned by being transferred to outlets with fewer customers, which means that those whose income is partly dependent on the number of beers sold . . . saw their income decline,” the report states.

The revelation comes as Danish company Carlsberg, a 50 per cent owner of Cambrew, prepares to improve conditions for its beer promoters, in partnership with the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO).

The Post reported last Wednesday that many beer promoters were being coerced into drinking an average of six glasses of beer per night, 27 nights a month, according to research by Canadian academic Ian Lubek.

The SOMO report, by Kristóf Rácz and Samuel Grumiau, found that about 83 per cent of beer promoters surveyed were still drinking at work, due to pressure from customers – including government officials – and a need to earn tips to survive.

“The vast majority . . . reported earning on average less than US$100 per month, but when asked how much their basic needs are, their answers came to an average of $177,” the report states.

Sor Yary, a beer promoters consultant at Cambrew, said TUWFPD was a “company” union, but no workers had been moved as a result of last year’s strike and workers could join whichever union they liked.

“We help [CFSWF’s promoters] with all their problems,” Yary said.

However, Phol Sophea, deputy director CFSWF in Siem Reap province, said Cambrew did not want its beer promoters to join her union.

“The beer promoters have the right to choose their union and should not be afraid of being fired for joining a union,” she said. “We just want to protect beer promoters in case their rights are abused.”

Kim Chansamnang, president of TUWFP, said his union often “connected” with companies.

“It makes it easy for us to discuss problems beer promoters face,” he said.

Chansamnang said that at no stage had he forced workers not to join a rival union.

“If someone is accusing me of working with the company to abuse [other unions’] members, they need to show evidence.”

Carlsberg and LO did not respond to questions before deadline.

To contact the reporters on this story: Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com
Mom Kunthear at kunthear.mom@phnompenhpost.com

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