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Angkor cleaners return to work after company okays demands

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Workers from V-Green, a company outsourced to clean the Angkor Archaeological Park, have agreed to stop striking and return to work after their demands, including a wage increase, were approved by the company. Supplied

Angkor cleaners return to work after company okays demands

Workers from V-Green, a company outsourced to clean the Angkor Archaeological Park, have agreed to stop striking and return to work after their demands, including a wage increase, were approved by the company.

About 200 workers on Friday petitioned the authorities and the company’s executives to increase the lowest wages to $170 per month from $80.

During the protest they also presented a list of 10 demands regarding changes on their working conditions, including leave and public holidays.

Kea Tuot, the workers’ representative for the past 10 years, said on Sunday that the company did not meet their $170 demand, but agreed to add $15 to the workers’ minimum wage following negotiations on Saturday.

As of Sunday, all workers accepted the new conditions and resumed work, he added.

“The workers agreed to the new conditions and they signed new contracts. Moreover, the company has promised to increase wages by $15 and $20 in 2019 and 2020, respectively. This means workers with the lowest wage could earn up to $120 [per month] next year,” Tuot said.

Heang Narin, a representative from V-Green, could not be reached for comment.

A spokesperson for the Apsara Authority – a body that oversees the operations of the Angkor temple complex – declined to comment.

Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF) president Morm Rithy said such “low” wages cannot improve the workers’ livelihood.

“[This case] should not have happened. The workers should not have earned such [low] wages in the first place, especially in Siem Reap [province], where there is massive income potential from tourism."

“It is estimated that the state receives millions of dollars from the industry alone. Therefore, the leaders must pay attention to the workers’ welfare and pay them more,” he said.

Heng Sour, Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman, said they will continue monitoring and facilitating the case.

“For the case of V-Green company, the workers who were on strike can go back to work within 48 hours. The company can take them back provided that the workers did not damage the company’s assets, block access roads or threaten other workers who did not participate in the strike,” he said.

V-Green has been appointed by Apsara authority to oversee the cleaning operations at the temple complex and other temples across Siem Reap province since 2013.

The company employs 551 workers, mostly women, with their wages ranging between $80 and $140 a month, depending on each employee’s seniority level.

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