A protest by 130 construction workers over allowances and annual leave in Kampot yesterday resulted in their employer conceding to most of their demands.
The employees of cement and construction firm Thai Bun Rong Company were angry about the firing of a union official, an unlawful paid-holiday policy and the lack of meal allowances or paid leave for half of the 150 total workers at the Kampot factory who were on day-to-day contracts.
Per Cambodian law, workers are entitled to one and a half days of paid leave for each month worked, accruing for up to three years.
However, according to factory union leader Khem Phat, the company would not allow workers to roll their holidays over from month to month. Workers who tried to take their accrued vacation had their pay docked.
The workers were also incensed by the firing without proper notice of a deputy union leader who took some time off to work at another job. He had said Thai Bun Rong didn’t pay enough for daily living expenses.
Sok Kin, the leader of the Building and Wood Worker Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, said after the strikers failed to reach an agreement with company leadership at 8am, the workers warned that they would march on Kampot Provincial Town Hall.
However, at a second meeting at 11am, attended by the provincial labour department, company representatives agreed to reinstate fired union members; pay all cut salaries for January and February; allow proper rollover of annual leave; and give days off for national holidays.
The workers on one-day contracts would also get paid leave but not be extended meal allowances.
Oeng Poheng, the department’s director, said that the company violated the Labour Law. “The new management team from Thailand is new, so they are not aware of how it works; so we went to instruct them,” said Poheng. He added that the factory will now face inspections every three months for an undetermined amount of time.
William Conklin, country director at the Solidarity Center, said the authorities in Kampot were concerned a public protest would scare tourists. He added that the Kingdom’s construction industry was lax in following labour rules, even by Cambodian standards.
Additional reporting by Igor Kossov.