More than 300 striking workers from the International Fashion Royal garment factory in Phnom Penh appealed for assistance from the South Korean Embassy yesterday afternoon after police blocked their march to Por Sen Chey District Hall, a union official said.
Ten days of striking for a monthly minimum wage increase from $61 to $93, overtime bonuses and other demands had yielded no response from the factory, so yesterday workers marched to the Korean Embassy because the factory’s manager is Korean, said Sreang Narith, vice president of Cambodian Workers of Economic Union Federation.
“The Korean Embassy received our petition, and they promised to call the owner of the factory to meet with the workers and union to find a solution,” Narith said.
The exchange occurred as the Social Affairs Ministry led the first in a series of meetings with union and employer representatives to discuss a minimum wage increase.
The ministry has asked workers to cease their protests until the meetings yield a resolution, but thousands of workers from several factories continued protesting the matter in the past week.
Narith said that yesterday morning the International Fashion Royal workers tried to submit their petition to Por Sen Chey District Hall, but police blocked their march.
No violence occurred, and police did not stop them from then marching to the South Korean Embassy, he added.
A district police official who would not give his name said police blocked the protesters to maintain public order, because they had not informed the district hall about their march ahead of time.
Narith said that while waiting for the South Korean Embassy’s assistance the workers would hold off on other demonstrations or marches but would not return to work until they factory had offered them a resolution.
Worker Ret Loa, 26, said under current conditions, workers were asked to put in extra hours with no additional wages.
“We need a better salary, because we spend almost all our wages on renting houses and other basic needs,” she said.
Representatives of the factory and the embassy could not be reached for comment.
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