Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen promises weekly garment factory visits



Hun Sen promises weekly garment factory visits

Garment workers in a factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 2014. Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday promised weekly visits to such factories to hear workers’ concerns.
Garment workers in a factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 2014. Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday promised weekly visits to such factories to hear workers’ concerns. Pha Lina

Hun Sen promises weekly garment factory visits

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Friday that he will make weekly visits to garment factories across the country to better understand the demands and needs of workers, in what some observers said could be an attempt to appeal to potential voters before next July’s national elections.

A note released after a Council of Ministers meeting on Friday said the premier would start his visits August 20 and would attempt to meet workers every Sunday at garment factories as his schedule permitted.

“When he goes down and meets people he always provides solutions as requested by the people,” said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan.

The garment industry in the Kingdom employs nearly 1 million workers.

Independent unions have had a contentious relationship with the government when it comes to working conditions, human rights and the minimum wage.

Nonetheless, the monthly minimum wage for garment workers has risen each year, and is currently at $153. The premier’s factory visit announcement comes a few months before the start of tripartite negotiations that will see the government, unions and employer associations voting on how much to increase the wage.

According to Siphan, the visits are not necessarily election-related. He pointed to former United States President Barack Obama’s regular meetings with American citizens.

While garment workers don’t work on Sundays, Som Aun, the president of the CPP-aligned Cambodian Labour Union Federation, said workers would still come to meet the prime minister and express their concerns directly to him.

“It’s good that they meet on Sunday because it will not affect their work,” he said.

Unionist Ath Thorn, however, was more sceptical about the premier’s visits, saying that he had shown little concern for workers in the past.

“We never saw the prime minister so interested in the workers before. It is only now near the elections that he is planning to go into the factories,” he said.

He said if the premier was to visit the factories then he should meet workers from independent unions in order to understand issues such as wages, faintings and working conditions, and not only speak to factory officials.

Political analyst Cham Bunteth said he hoped that Hun Sen’s visits were more than mere politicking ahead of a crucial national election.

“He should do it consistently and not just a few months or a year before the elections,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Without shoes or a helmet, a young cyclist steals the show

    Pech Theara gripped the curved handlebars of his rusty old bike, planted his bare feet on its pedals and stormed as fast as he could towards the finish line. The odds were against him as the 13-year-old faced off against kids with nicer bikes at

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • Cambodia lauded for fight against Covid-19

    Cambodia has drawn global accolades for its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a new report finding that the Kingdom has controlled the pandemic better than any other country in Asia. Dr Takeshi Kasai, director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Western Pacific region,