Some 200 workers at the Angkor Beer brewery in Sihanoukville yesterday went on strike for higher wages and an end to commission withholding on large sales.
According to a machine operator who asked not to be named, he and his fellow technicians maintain that their above-average training and technical know-how entitle them to $150 a month, a $30 increase over their usual monthly salary of $120.
“We want a raise of at least $30 more per person,” he said. “The price of all kinds of goods has increased, but our salary is stable. We are the technicians; at least we finished high school and went to technical school, but our salary is lower than a garment factory worker’s.”
The government-mandated minimum wage for garment workers is $100 a month, though some can earn upwards of $200 with overtime.
One sales and marketing employee who also asked not to be named said that the company didn’t pay commissions on large sales, and that negotiations had been under way since last month, only
to break down yesterday.
“When we sold about 400,000 cases of beer to big depots, the company did not give commission for that . . . But if we sold to small depots, the company pays us,” he said. “In short, this company takes advantage of us. They cheat us.”
The beer company has had labour problems in the past, with a two-week strike for unpaid overtime in 2011.
Chheng Sopheak, administration manager at Angkor, said that staffers were awaiting the company director’s return from abroad to negotiate.
“The company had informed them that this problem will be discussed in June, but they disagreed, so the strike broke out,” he said. “The company needs time to consider this, because the workers have asked for $150 per month, but we have to consider the salary of people who get $200 or more, because all of them want the company to raise their salary too.”
Yov Khemara, director of the Preah Sihanouk provincial labour department, said that he had “met both sides, but I am waiting to meet with the Malaysian director”.