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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Union, authorities gear up for strike

Union, authorities gear up for strike

THE head of a prominent garment workers union said yesterday that a massive strike set to begin today would take place along six major roads in the capital and two provinces.

Ath Thun, head of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said yesterday that the strike – called to express discontent with a minimum wage increase adopted in July and set to go into effect in October – would involve protests in Phnom Penh and in Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces.

“We will hold the strike at the factories along National Roads 1, 2 and 6, as well as Street Veng Sreng in Meanchey district, the road to Kampong Speu province, and the factories near Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Kandal province,” he said.

On Thursday, unionists claimed to have collected thumbprints from 80,000 workers who had pledged to participate in the five-day strike.

Ath Thun said yesterday that the protest would go ahead as planned in order to press workers’ demand for a garment sector minimum wage of US$93 per month.

“We will start at 8am, with all the workers that we collected thumbprints from,” he said, and added that a total of 13 union leaders and human rights workers would join the strike.

“We have organised ambulances in case the workers encounter problems,” he said.

Hy Narin, the police chief in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, said yesterday that he was unsure “how to deal” with the strike.

Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said yesterday that he was too busy to comment.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said last week that police would not suppress demonstrations so long as they were conducted lawfully and without violence.

Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturer’s Association In Cambodia, said last week that he would advise any factories facing work stoppages to seek court injunctions branding the strikes illegal and force all strikers back to work within 48 hours.

Ath Thun said yesterday that workers and unionists were not anticipating any arrests because they planned to strike “peacefully and without disturbing someone’s public property”.

Garment worker Han lang Heoun, 38, said yesterday that she would participate in the strike for all five days because she would be unable to improve her living standard on the newly approved wage.

“We are protesting to demand more wages to support our lives,” she said.

“We cannot live happily with such a small wage, but we work hard.”

She said she needed $93 to support her family and ensure that her children obtained a proper education.



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