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Bonus bump too low: union

Bonus bump too low: union

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Free Trade Union president Chea Mony speaks to disgruntled factory workers during a protest outside the Medtec factory in Kampong Cham province in February. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Free Trade Union president Chea Mony met yesterday with representatives of more than 70 unions from 35 factories to reject the US$7 travel and accommodation allowance and the extra $3 attendance bonus approved by the Ministry of Labour recently, and to threaten mass strikes if the figures aren’t revised upward, union officials said.

Mony said that the July 11 offer from the ministry’s Labour Advisory Committee – which is to take effect on September 1 – was simply too low, citing rising costs facing workers, and suggested bilateral talks with the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia to discuss workers’ benefits.

“I want to confirm that the decision of the labour council still has problems, and makes it difficult for the workers because it is too low,” he said.

Mony maintained that the council’s offer should hew closer to a recent settlement in Bavet, in which workers were offered a transport and accommodation bonus of up to $10 per month, and up to $10 a month for attendance, as well as holiday pay.

“I sent a letter to GMAC to discuss more demands for workers’ benefits, and we will hold a big strike if there’s no solution.”

Worker representative and FTU member Cheang Thida said that the workers had reported spikes in their rent as landlords adjusted for a new $7 accommodation and transportation bonus that would take effect in September.

However, she said, the increases were higher than the bonus, necessitating government intervention.

“The house owners always take advantage of the benefits of the workers when they get any bonus,” Thida said. “They increase the cost of rent.”

Thida said that workers are ready to strike pending the outcome of an August 2 meeting with representatives of the factory, whom she declined to name for fear of souring negotiations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at [email protected]

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