HUNDREDS of garment workers took advantage of their day off yesterday to gather in front of the National Assembly to protest against a recent increase in the industry’s minimum wage that they say is inadequate.
The rally, originally scheduled to be held in Daun Penh district’s Wat Botum Park, was moved to the National Assembly after police blocked some workers from entering the park. Organisers estimated that between 3,500 and 4,500 workers attended, though the total number massed in front of the Assembly at any one time did not appear to exceed 1,000.
The Labour Advisory Committee, a body made up of government officials and industry representatives, voted earlier this month to increase the minimum wage for garment workers by just US$5 to $61, far below the $93 that some labour leaders had been hoping for.
“The workers gathered on Sunday [yesterday] to demonstrate our resolve and to show the government and the employers that we cannot accept this minimum wage increase because it will not support a proper standard of living,” said Ath Thun. head of the Cambodian Labour Confederation.
Ath Thun said that he planned to send a letter this week to government officials and factory owners requesting a new round of negotiations aimed at increasing the minimum wage.
In the event he was turned down, he said, he planned to attempt to mobilise workers next month to stage a weeklong strike.
Officials at the Ministry of Labour could not be reached for comment yesterday.