The Ministry of Labour has announced that factory managers must allow employees three days off for Khmer New Year, even as some union leaders encourage workers to extend that time.
In a letter to factory owners dated March 25, Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng reminds owners that workers have the legal right to paid time off from April 14 until April 16.
“The ministry wants to mention that in cases where factories cannot stop work for the holiday, owners and managers must find employees who volunteer to work,” Sam Heng’s letter, obtained yesterday, reads. “Those who work are entitled to receive [double-time].”
Tomorrow, the leaders of eight unions will send a letter to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) asking them to communicate to factory owners that union members request annual leave for April 17 to April 23, said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW). This would ensure workers receive pay while taking part in a stay-at-home strike.
Workers’ demand for a minimum monthly wage of $160 and for the court to drop charges against 23 defendants – 21 of whom are still detained in prison – arrested at January strike demonstrations have slowed since a boycott of overtime work in February, Sina said. But enthusiasm for the strike is high.
“I often meet with factory workers to get an idea of how many of them plan on striking,” Sina said yesterday. “Most of them are waiting for the strike to begin and will not abandon their willingness to participate.”
Sok Lim, 23, who works at Canadia Industrial Park, said she looks forward to spending time with her family over Khmer New Year, since it is the only time of year she is able to visit them. But Lim’s desire for higher wages will keep her out of work an extra week.
“I will take another week off to demand a higher minimum wage and the release of 21 people,” Lim said. “I must join for my own benefit.”