Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Massage workers strike in Siem Reap

Massage workers strike in Siem Reap

Alaska Massage Center workers hold placards during a protest in front of the company’s office yesterday morning in Siem Reap, where they demanded an increase in staff wages.
Alaska Massage Center workers hold placards during a protest in front of the company’s office yesterday morning in Siem Reap, where they demanded an increase in staff wages. Photo supplied

Massage workers strike in Siem Reap

More than 70 workers from a Korean-owned massage centre in the tourist hub of Siem Reap protested in front of their workplace yesterday, demanding a basic wage of $177 per month and a $100 yearly health bonus.

Workers from the Alaska Massage Center have been on strike since Friday following their employer’s repeated refusal to increase wages, said Eang Kenghuy, a masseur and the head of the centre’s Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF) union chapter.

“The authorities asked workers to suspend our strike for a month to find a resolution. But we have not agreed because we have been asking our employer for higher wages and health bonuses since February, but we have had no results,” he said.

The workers appear to have chosen their $177 demand after independent garment unions pushed for the same figure as the sector’s minimum wage for the last two years.

Garment workers are the only employees in the Kingdom who have a set minimum wage, which was raised to $140 a month for 2016 from the current $128 rate.

Kenghuy said that the massage workers only make between $50 and $70 a month, which is not enough to live on given rising prices.

“Since we’ve started working here, we have have never received health bonuses and our wages are so low that we cannot support our living standards,” he said.

“The employer receives a lot of money from the clients, so they should think about workers’ living standards.”

However, the owners of the massage centre appear unrelenting.

Kim Timkyung, an interpreter for the owners, said the workers’ demands were “illegal” and contrary to the Labour Law.

“The demand to increase their basic wage to $177 per month is not right, because the Cambodian Labour Law states that workers who work for the service industry, especially in tourism, do not have a minimum wage,” he said.

“They don’t have any evidence or whatever to show us for their demands,” accusing the CFSWF of instigating the strike.

However, CFSWF president Sar Mora rejected the charge, saying the situation boiled over because of employers’ refusal to increase wages.

“The workers have the right to strike,” he said, adding that all workers have the right to demand a minimum wage.

“Up to now, we know that the government has set a basic wage only for the garment and footwear industry, but it does not mean workers from other industries do not have a right to demand their own basic wage.”

Mora said the workers would continue their protest until they received concessions.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused