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Road blocked as strike escalates

120705_01

Garment workers from factories owned by Tai Yang Enterprise in Kandal province's Ang Snuol district block National Road 4. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Thousands of workers from factories owned by Tai Yang Enterprise in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district blocked National Road 4 for more than seven hours yesterday to push the company to meet their demands.

May Sopheaktra, secretary-general of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said workers decided to block the road after the company – which supplies Levi’s and Gap, among others – tried to disrupt the protests by broadcasting over a loudspeaker the Kandal Provincial Court’s order that strikers return to work in 48 hours.

“The workers asked the officials from the Ministry of Labour, the company and the local authorities to resolve for them [Wednesday] evening, but if they don’t get results today, they will keep striking, and [Thursday] they will march to the Labour Ministry, to Hun Sen’s cabinet and to the American embassy, and we will end our march at the European Union,” Sopheaktra said from the protest site.

The roughly 4,000 workers have demanded a $15 monthly transportation and accommodation stipend, a $15 monthly bonus for good performance, a $15 monthly child-care allowance for workers with young children, freedom from pay cuts and demotions if a worker takes sick leave for more than three days, and the benefits to which workers are entitled under Cambodian labour law.

Thach Phalla, Ang Snuol district’s deputy police chief, said the workers had opened the road and moved to the front of the factory after the company agreed to negotiate with them.

“Trucks could not travel [through] from 8:10am until 2pm,” he said. “We cannot blame the workers for blocking the road, because the company played a loudspeaker to disturb their strike.”

Ke Sok Sidney, adviser to the Minister of Social Affairs, said his committee would meet with workers to find a resolution to the dispute, but said the roadblock set “a bad example” and discouraged foreign investment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at kunthear.mom@phnompenhpost.com

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