Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun threatened yesterday to lead a march of more than 3,000 striking garment workers from Kandal province to the capital on Thursday if their employer refuses to meet their demands.
“[Workers] have already made commitments with me to march to Phnom Penh,” he said after a meeting with them at Tai Yang Enterprises’ factory in Ang Snuol district.
“We told them that we will help them as best we can.”
The workers have five demands they want their bosses to meet. These include an increase in travel and accommodation bonuses, baby-milk bonuses and holiday bonuses of up to $15 a month each.
The workers will walk 20 kilometres to the Ministry of Labour if these demands are not met by Thursday.
Chhun told the Post that workers had warned him that he faced arrest for inciting them to strike; however, the police would not confirm yesterday whether they were monitoring the CCU president’s actions.
Buth Thoeun, general manager of Tai Yang Enterprises, said the company could not give workers everything they wanted, but had increased their bonuses this year. This included increasing the travel bonus from $5 a month to $10.
The Free Trade Union, which announced on Sunday that it was withdrawing from the CCU, had presented similar demands in May and the company had resolved them, Thoeun said.
“The company does not understand why Rong Chhun is acting this way,” he said. “Maybe this is to do with an internal problem with [FTU president] Chea Mony,” he said.
The Post reported yesterday that FTU was breaking from its long-time ally the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, which Chhun is also president of, and withdrawing from the CCU, which the two unions formed in 2006.
Ho Vuthy, a department deputy general-director at the Ministry of Labour, said workers had the right to march and the ministry would not be stopping them from doing so.
“When they arrive and we hear what they are saying, we will consider their demands.”
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