Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Massive strike nearing: union

Massive strike nearing: union

Massive strike nearing: union

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Garment workers in Phnom Penh take part in a nationwide strike in September 2010. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

The Free Trade Union has vowed to stage a mass strike in the garment and footwear industries if its demands for an extra US$30 per month of bonuses for workers are not met, union president Chea Mony said yesterday.

The union sent a letter to Minister of Interior Sar Keng on Friday in which it called on the Labour Advisory Committee, part of the Ministry of Labour, to agree to $10 per month attendance, transport and accommodation bonuses or face a backlash from hundreds of thousands of workers.

“If the LAC does not consult and make decisions to provide these benefits, the FTU will lead a strike across the country in August,” the letter states.

The Interior Minister, however, had not accepted the request, Chea Mony said.

“They refused it, saying it had to be sent to every authority in every town to be valid . . . I will start doing this tomorrow,” he said, adding he wanted not just FTU members to strike if demands weren’t met.

“I urge other workers all over the country to strike, because I see that some factories provide bonuses to workers, but some do not,” he said.

If such a strike is as big as Chea Mony is urging, it would rival the September 2010 strike led by Ath Thorn, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, in which an estimated 200,000 people stopped work.

The FTU president said he had previously sent letters to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen and the LAC asking them to resolve the issue, but had not received replies.

GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo told the Post yesterday he did not wish to comment about the proposed strike.

“We don’t want to react to every threat,” he said of the proposed labour action.

A twice-yearly ILO-Better Factories report released last week said it was encouraging that more factories are offering a $7 per month attendance bonus to garment workers, who are a paid a minimum wage of $61 per month plus bonuses.

Labour Advisory Committee president and Minister of Labour Vong Sauth could not be reached for comment yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]

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