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Messy strike comes to an end

Uncollected rubbish accumulates near the Night Market in Phnom Penh
Uncollected rubbish accumulates near the Night Market in Phnom Penh yesterday. Vireak Mai

Messy strike comes to an end

Phnom Penh’s sanitation workers are expected back on the job today after a two-day strike that saw garbage beginning to pile up in neighbourhoods across the city.

The decision by employees of Cintri, the private firm contracted to remove the capital’s garbage, came after a four-hour meeting at City Hall yesterday that saw workers accept a modest wage increase, while pledging to continue pushing for more.

Worker representative Prak Sokha, 45, said that Cintri had agreed to increase the salary of street cleaners from $65 to $80 per month, rather than the $120 demanded, while night truck drivers were bumped from $110 to $120. Drivers had been seeking $200.

The company also agreed to build health centres for workers that will provide 24-hour care and to no longer charge workers for their company uniforms.

“It is just a little agreement from the company. We only got a small increase to our salary,” Sokha said. “We will return to work from now on, but keep protesting for higher pay.”

Seng Sorida, deputy chief of Cintri, said the company expected workers back on the job today.

“Four points were reached in the negotiation, and City Hall told workers to start work and asked them not to destroy [Cintri] property,” she said. “We are preparing for workers to resume work. We’re waiting to see what happens next.”

Chan Sitha, a 42 year-old resident of the capital’s Daun Penh district, told the Post yesterday she had watched as rubbish piled up after Cintri workers walked off the job on Sunday night as Lunar New Year festivities came to a close.

“Now there are piles of rubbish almost everywhere in the city,” she said.

“It is terrible for the city’s image, and the bad smells affect the health of residents and businesses next to the waste.”

Phnom Penh Municipality spokesman Long Dimanche could not be reached for comment yesterday.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEN DAVID

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