The few who stayed at home to strike

Breang Sopheap, originally from Takeo, works between 7am and 4pm. She funds both of her brothers, a teacher and a student. She has worked in factories for more than 10 years.
Breang Sopheap, originally from Takeo, works between 7am and 4pm. She funds both of her brothers, a teacher and a student. She has worked in factories for more than 10 years. Charlotte Pert

The few who stayed at home to strike

The week-long stay-at-home strike proposed by all 18 union groups might have been postponed until after Khmer New Year, but last week four of the unions decided to continue with their own.

The unions and workers who back a strike have asked for a $160 minimum monthly garment wage as well as the release of 21 workers and unionists arrested in early January.

Last Friday, in shared accommodation off National Road 2, where many factories are located, some workers had decided to remain at home.

Long Naty, 26, lives inside a pagoda complex with her mother and sister, who are also both garment workers. They rent a small section of a shared floor. Their corner, measuring roughly 2.5 metres by 2 metres, is marked out by a sheet. She is not worried about her job, she said.

“This is just a small part of the protests – there are many protests in Cambodia now.”

Breang Sopheap, 33, works at the same factory and lives on the other side of National Road 2, down a narrow alley filled with rubble.

She believes that if all the workers in Cambodia join together, there might be change. “Two factories are not powerful,” she said, in between sewing pajama collars which she sells for extra money.

Naty is often expected to work overtime until 6pm, receiving 3,000 riel for the extra hours.
Naty is often expected to work overtime until 6pm, receiving 3,000 riel for the extra hours. Charlotte Pert
She says that her factory is very small, with low ceilings and a lot of people, and gets very hot.
She says that her factory is very small, with low ceilings and a lot of people, and gets very hot. Charlotte Pert
In her spare time, Sopheap makes pyjama collars at home, which she sells, making 100 for $1.
In her spare time, Sopheap makes pyjama collars at home, which she sells, making 100 for $1. Charlotte Pert
Naty is originally from Kampong Cham and has worked at her factory for two years.
Naty is originally from Kampong Cham and has worked at her factory for two years. Charlotte Pert
Sopheap attended the on March 8 rally at Freedom Park. “It was International Women’s Day, I wanted to have a voice,” she said.
Sopheap attended the on March 8 rally at Freedom Park. “It was International Women’s Day, I wanted to have a voice,” she said. Charlotte Pert
Sopheap rents a small room for $20 which she shares with other women. She said she is too poor to marry.
Sopheap rents a small room for $20 which she shares with other women. She said she is too poor to marry. Charlotte Pert

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