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Garment staff get pay, push for labour rights

Garment staff get pay, push for labour rights

Garment workers who went on strike over delayed payment of wages and other alleged violations of labour law on Tuesday morning were paid on Wednesday by management at the Chea Ieng garment factory in the capital’s Sen Sok district.

Factory employee Sun Sopheak said yesterday that negotiations would continue on 12 other points of contention tomorrow.

“If the negotiations fail, all workers will resume the strike,” she said, adding that they were merely attempting to ensure that the company followed the law.

Employees said they were paid the legal minimum wage of US$61 for 48 hours a week of work, or about 29 cents an hour.

In tomorrow’s negotiations, workers are seeking to have medical staff on duty at the factory, an agreement that all overtime must be voluntary, hygienic toilets and safe drinking water.

They also allege that the factory deducts two day’s wages for every day an employee is absent, and say they will strike if this practice is not ended.  

Workers are also demanding that pregnant staff receive paid maternity leave and time off once a month for a health check. By law, the company is required to pay them 50 per cent of their wage for three months of maternity leave.

“In Cambodia, women often wait till they are near delivery before taking maternity leave so they can spend as much time as possible with their infant,” Free Trade Union president Chea Mony said.

“However, because they are paid only half their salary for three months, they are often forced to return to work early to make ends meet.”

Factory employees are also asking for 4,000 riel (about $1) to buy a meal if they work four hours of overtime on top of their eight-hour shifts.

The factory made T-shirts, staff said. It is not a member of the Garment Factories Association of Cambodia and does not have a licence to export goods.

A Chinese-speaking manager of the factory who declined to be named said on Tuesday that the strike was the result of a misunderstanding over the date of payment for salaries.

Mann Seng Hak, secretary-general of the FTU, said the union would support the workers if they decided to strike tomorrow.


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