Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Strike picks up steam



Strike picks up steam

Garment workers strike outside the Chu Hsing factory to demand a higher minimum wage yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district
Garment workers strike outside the Chu Hsing factory to demand a higher minimum wage yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district. Vireak Mai

Strike picks up steam

A nationwide garment factory strike began to take shape yesterday, as workers took to the streets a day after the Ministry of Labour announced they would raise the industry’s minimum wage by less than a quarter of what union leaders had demanded.

Union leaders immediately decried the Labour Ministry’s decision to raise minimum salaries in the garment sector to $95 in April, rather than the $160 minimum wage they supported.

“I hope officials will negotiate again on the minimum wage in order to end this dispute,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW). “If the government or the employers don’t, protests will grow larger and larger without ending.”

As of yesterday, 94 factories across Phnom Penh and several provinces had shuttered to join the strike, according to the Free Trade Union (FTU).

In a joint statement released hours after Tuesday’s decision, CUMW, FTU, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC) and the Cambodia Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) called for a national strike of garment workers until the government agreed to set the industry’s minimum wage to $160 in the coming year.

The statement predicts about 200,000 garment workers from 300 factories in the Kingdom will join the strike.

Noun Chan Thoeun was one of about 10,000 strikers who met opposition leader Sam Rainsy yesterday at a Russey Keo district pagoda after a 10-kilometre march.

“$95 per month cannot make our lives better, it cannot support our families,” Chan Thoeun said.

Although planning on striking, Kleng Vichey, 23, from Evergreen Apparel (Cambodia) Co., Ltd. showed up for work yesterday because his union, C.CAWDU, has not yet sent a letter informing the factory of the intended strike, he said.

A statement released by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights on Tuesday aired concern over a letter the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia sent to the Labour Ministry last week, urging the government to enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward “illegal” strikes.

“Regardless of the legality of the strike, a zero-tolerance policy will only ignore the root causes of the labor (sic) dispute and most likely lead to further violent crackdowns,” CCHR’s statement said.

In one of several demonstrations yesterday, hundreds of FTU demonstrators in Kampong Cham province yesterday blocked the Kisona Bridge for about three hours, said Yen Sokheang, FTU’s Kampong Cham president.

The Labour Ministry yesterday released a statement saying that unions rejecting the government’s wage decision would be “legally responsible for... anything that happens during the strike.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce