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Thousands protest outside Gladpeer Garment Factory

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A sea of workers look on during a strike at Gladpeer Garment Factory in Phnom Penh, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

More than 2,000 workers demonstrated in front of Phnom Penh’s Gladpeer Garment Factory yesterday, demanding a higher minimum wage and several other concessions.

The workers decided to strike after the Por Sen Chey district factory did not respond to repeated requests to raise their monthly minimum wage from $61 to $93 per month, use long-term contacts, reinstate two fired union members and offer other benefits, Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union representative Ngeat Sokum said.

“We sent a letter two weeks in advance to inform them we would strike if the company did not do anything to meet the workers’ demands,” he said. “Now we’re striking as we planned.” More than 20 police officials showed up at the protest, but no violence occurred, Sokum said.

Va Chinda, Gladpeer Garment’s administrative manager, said yesterday the company – a supplier to such brands as H&M, Puma and Hollister – could not accept the demands.
“I am working to resolve the problem,” she said. “A resolution has not been found yet.”

A two-hour meeting in the afternoon between workers, union and company representatives, and local officials failed to bring them any nearer to a resolution, and Sokum said the strike would continue today.

“We will march from the factory to stand along National Road 4 some time this week.”

“We want to appeal to H&M to look at the situation of the company and push it to intervene for the workers,” he said.

H&M media representative Anna Eriksson told the Post the retail company does not own any factories and therefore does not pay wages or have the power to increase them, but that the company is working with the International Labour Organisation’s Better Factories Cambodia to push the government on the matter.  

Two weeks ago, Minister of Social Affairs Ith Sam Heng called on workers to cease demonstrating for a higher minimum wage until they knew the result of meetings on the topic later this month between workers, employers and government officials.  

 

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

With assistance from Justine Drennan at justine.drennan@phnompenhpost.com

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