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Union leader to seek permission for rally

A PROMINENT union leader said yesterday that he would submit an official request to City Hall for permission to hold a large-scale gathering of workers concerned about a recently approved rise in the minimum wage.

Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union and head of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said the letter would be sent this morning, and that the gathering was expected to take place on July 25 in the park near Wat Botum.

Last Thursday, the Labour Advisory Committee voted to increase the minimum wage of garment workers by US$5 and to incorporate a $6 cost of living supplement into the basic wage, thereby raising it from $50 to $61.

Despite having criticised the decision when it was announced, union leader Chea Mony, who earlier called for a three-day sit-down strike over the minimum wage issue, said on Sunday that he would not organise a strike.

Ath Thun said he planned to distribute 100,000 fliers in advance of the July 25 meeting, which he said he hoped would allow him to gauge how workers felt about the Labour Advisory Committee decision.

If enough of them find the proposed minimum wage insufficient, he will organise a strike himself, he said.

“I haven’t set the date for a strike yet because I don’t know how many of the workers agree and how many don’t agree,” he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said City Hall is empowered to permit or forbid the proposed large-scale gathering. “If the municipality allows it, our police officials will not have any motive to crack down on a peaceful demonstration,” he said.

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