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Unionists to reconsider strike plan

A PROMINENT labour leader said yesterday that he would consult with workers this week to consider calling off a strike scheduled to begin next Monday.

Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said following a meeting with garment industry representatives yesterday that the union would decide between continuing with the strike or working with employers to secure further benefits later this year.

“I will inform the workers about the meeting on Wednesday or Thursday, and when I get a reaction or decision from the workers about whether they agree to accept the minimum wage, then we will know whether to cancel the strike or keep a firm stance,” Ath Thun said.

Unionists claim to have collected roughly 60,000 thumbprints from workers in support of a five-day strike to protest the Kingdom’s newly established minimum wage for garment workers. The wage, which was increased by US$5 to $61 per month in June, was determined by a body made up of government officials and union representatives called the Labour Advisory Committee.

Although the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia has rejected requests for a new round of negotiations, Ath Thun said GMAC representatives had floated the possibility of talks in November on issues such as contract and benefit reforms for workers.

“Even though we did not get a good result from this meeting, it shows the good relationship between union leaders and GMAC,” Ath Thun said.

On Sunday, GMAC secretary general Ken Loo said union leaders should call off the strike, and that it would needlessly disrupt the garment industry.

“They have every right to object to these decisions and to want to negotiate for better working conditions and remuneration for their members, but I think the way they’ve gone about doing it is not correct,” Loo said.

Officials from GMAC and the Ministry of Labour could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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