Some 500 workers of refuse collection firm Cintri took industrial action in front of a company facility in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on Thursday after negotiations over a $12 a month wage increase and improved working conditions were delayed.
Touch Kosal, the head of the Cambodia Tourism Workers Union Federation, which has a union representative at the workplace, said workers started protesting on Wednesday evening after negotiations requested since November were delayed.
The company made an appointment for talks on Monday, but these were then postponed.
“The workers started protesting on Wednesday evening at around 3pm or 4 pm, and they did not work on Thursday."
“They demand a $12 a month increase for seniority pay and for when they do not use all their annual leave because some workers do not get to use it. However, after meeting with company representatives on Thursday, they proposed only an $8 increase.
“We want the company to resolve the issue and not to delay a solution anymore as protests could spread to other [facilities]. The workers stopped work on Wednesday evening and now we wait for a resolution. The workers have said that if the company does not resolve the issue, they will not work,” Kosal said.
Mi Phan, 41, a Cintri garbage truck driver for 14 years, said: “The company tells us it cannot increase pay by $12 a month. I have worked for Cintri for 14 years and I think the company does not think about [its workers].
“I work around 10 hours a day. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training does not pay attention to our health and safety – we work without gloves!”
Mao Kol Marad at the Office of Waste Management and the Environment said the issue was being looked at for a resolution.
“We are solving this problem, and we cannot leave it much longer as the garbage is already very smelly,” he said.
Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said the labour conflict was being looked at. “We will find a solution for the workers,” he said.
A 39-year-old petrol vendor in the capital’s Por Sen Chey commune who asked to remain anonymous said Cintri workers did not regularly collect waste from his house.
“Sometimes they did not collect the rubbish for 10 days. Maybe it is because we are just a small family and private companies [or restaurants] pay extra for [collecting]."
“It is a good thing if the company can increase the workers’ pay because as far as I know, their salary is low. I also hope the rubbish collection will be better than before, but that depends on the company’s management,” he said.
Ok Soban, a Sen Sok district resident, also said his waste collection was not regular. “I do not know if it is due to a shortage of workers or not. But I support improvement in their standard of living,” she said.