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Unions seek paid leave for registration journey

CNRP supporters walk through a Siem Reap market last week with fliers about voter registration. Photo supplied
CNRP supporters walk through a Siem Reap market last week with fliers about voter registration. Photo supplied

Unions seek paid leave for registration journey

The Labour Ministry, if ordered by the National Election Committee, will request employers to grant workers time off to enrol to vote in their native communes, according to an official.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour made the comments yesterday, a day after separate reports surfaced of authorities in Siem Reap blocking opposition supporters trying to inform citizens about the need to register.

Responding to an appeal by the Cambodian Labour Confederation to ensure workers were granted paid leave during the current three-month registration drive, Sour said the ministry would follow any decision by the NEC on the issue.

“What [the NEC] decides, we will follow,” Sour said, also noting the mobile registration teams could work to enrol workers near factories.

Though the new election law allows workers to register in the communes where they work, the federation wants the NEC to ask the Labour Ministry to issue a directive calling on employers to grant leave without docking pay so employees can travel to their home provinces.

In a letter issued on Friday, the federation said members wanted to return to their native villages, many because of the added paperwork required to register as a temporary resident. “Last week, on Sunday, I had a meeting with union representatives from more than 100 factories and 100 per cent of people supported this,” the group’s president, Ath Thorn, said yesterday.

As many of the Kingdom’s 600,000-strong garment industry migrate from rural areas for employment, where they choose to register could change the electoral landscape.

Seemingly in response to this, the CNRP last month appealed for their supporters to return home to enrol.

In a recent interview with Radio France International, NEC spokesman Hang Puthea, who could not be reached yesterday, said there had been problems with spelling mistakes and incorrect personal information in some communes.

Meanwhile, in Siem Reap, a group of about 60 Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters claim they were blocked from discussing registration with villagers at Phsar Samaki on Saturday morning.

Opposition activist Khin Vanndy said the group was handing out stickers bearing NEC slogans about registering when they were asked to stop by officials led by City Governor Sou Platong.

“[Platong] said that the authorities don’t allow this, that it’s illegal. When we asked what was wrong, he said it led to traffic congestion,” Vanndy said, adding the group had since complained to local authorities.

Reached yesterday, Platong maintained the group required permission under the Law on Political Parties, though could not remember which provision stipulated this.

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