Despite donation, strike threat looms

Despite donation, strike threat looms

The European Un­ion announced a €3 million ($4 million) contribution to the international side of the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Wednesday.

But funding for the court’s severely under-financed national side – which is threatening a strike if salaries aren’t paid by September 1 – has yet to materialise.

According to court spokesman Neth Pheaktra, the court’s national side still has a $3 million shortfall in its budget for the year, and while a recent donation of nearly $157,000 from New Zealand allowed the court to pay some unpaid May salaries – as well as 30 per cent of some employees’ June salaries – most staffers remained unpaid.

“Around 250 Cambodian staff have not yet received their salaries for June and July,” Pheaktra said, noting that some 100 staffers were planning to strike.

Some, he added, had already “suspend[ed] their job since mid-August and took that time to find other job[s] to help the difficulties in their daily life.” Losing those 100 employees would severely hamper the work of the court, Pheaktra continued, but employees were hopeful that they would receive “good news” from UN Special Expert to the tribunal David Scheffer, who is currently on a tour of ASEAN states.

“We need full funding to speed up a process slowed down because of insufficient funding for the national budget of the court,” Scheffer said in an email on Tuesday, noting that his talks with various ASEAN governments recognised “the most immediate need for national salaries at this time”.

The court also faces pressing questions of funding for proposed reparations projects for civil parties, final submissions for which must be filed by September 26.

Scheffer said in his email that reparations had been addressed in a recent discussion with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, as well as with a civil party representative, “with everyone very aware of the looming deadline”.

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