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Strike continues as T&K rejects lunch allowance

Garment workers strike at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district
Garment workers strike at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district yesterday to demand key conditions be met before they return to work. Pha Lina

Strike continues as T&K rejects lunch allowance

Union representatives stormed out of negotiations and continued a strike yesterday when managers at T&K Garment factory said workers would never receive the 2,000 riel ($0.50) daily lunch allowance allegedly promised to them.

A week after they walked off the job, T&K workers at Por Sen Chey district’s Canadia Industrial Park were to remain on the picket line today. While factory brass acquiesced to two of the employees’ nine requests – including not docking workers’ pay by half on sick days – key conditions were refused, said Sum Rorng, president of the Union Federation for Worker Security.

“They told us they would not even give us 500 riel [for lunch], so workers got angry and walked out of the meeting,” said Rorng, who claimed that employees were promised a 2,000 riel daily subsidy before Khmer New Year. “This statement was too rude.”

Officials at T&K could not be reached for comment.

About 800 workers entered the industrial park on Veng Sreng Boulevard yesterday, standing outside the factory in protest.

Employee Nhem Da, 36, said she did not fear losing her job and that she and co-workers will hold out until their demands are met. Lunch has become unaffordable, she said, as prices rose when the minimum wage was lifted from $80 to $100.

“Other workers and I will keep striking until they agree to our demands,” Da said.

On January 3, a protest on the same street turned deadly when authorities fired at demonstrators, killing at least four.

In the same district, Collective Union of Movement of Workers president Pav Sina yesterday said Ocean Garment factory must pay workers’ full wages during a one-month suspension or face a “big protest”.

He did not specify how many people the demonstration – to be held on Thursday – would entail.

Some 1,000 Ocean employees have been on strike since May 24, after receiving notice the factory would shut its doors for a month beginning on May 26 (due to lacklustre orders) and pay workers $15 for the month.

In a statement on Friday, Ocean management said paying full wages during the suspension is impossible and that the employees’ strike is illegal.

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