Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Workers split on call to rally

Workers split on call to rally

SL Garment Processing factory employee Ran Piseth (centre), in Phnom Penh, says he is more concerned with garment factory workers’ rights than post-election politics.
SL Garment Processing factory employee Ran Piseth (centre), in Phnom Penh yesterday, says he is more concerned with garment factory workers’ rights than post-election politics. VIREAK MAI

Workers split on call to rally

Union workers and leaders appeared divided yesterday on the question of whether to support the opposition party’s planned three-day demonstration at Freedom Park.

Campaign promises from the Cambodia National Rescue Party to raise minimum monthly salaries to $150 seemed to have struck a chord with garment workers in the capital’s Meanchey district yesterday. But if support for the party among those workers is solid, their individual commitment to attend the Sunday-to-Tuesday protest seemed fractured.

Lim Ly, 37, one of about 1,000 employees in their third week on strike from the Nex-t Apparel (Cambodia) Co Ltd garment factory, said she will likely join Sunday’s CNRP demonstration.

“We want the CNRP to rule,” Ly said. “Their policy is to increase salaries for all workers.”

Employees at SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd gathering near a fruit stand on the dusty, unpaved road in front of the factory’s gate during their lunch break yesterday afternoon, meanwhile, seemed more concerned with problems within the factory than the opposition’s protest.

In the span of one week, workers at SL returned to work from striking, began striking again and then came back once more last Friday. Tension between workers and management remains as representatives from their union, the Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), carry on negotiations with management.

“Politics is politics,” said Ran Piseth, who declined to say whether he would attend the demonstrations.

Not far away, SL employee Sreng Neang, 41, sat at home, waiting for her 2pm shift to begin. Neang would join the demonstration if she could, she said, but she lost wages from two weeks of striking, which slashed her monthly pay cheque to $34.

“Having no money makes me not able to join, but in my heart I want to,” Neang said.

Labour unions also leaned in different directions when it came to whether to throw their support behind the demonstration in Freedom Park.

Earlier this week, Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union sent a letter to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) requesting that factories give workers one week off in light of the demonstration.

“I believe 90 per cent of workers voted for the CNRP, so why did the Cambodian People’s Party win?” Mony said in an interview yesterday.

Rong Chhun, head of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, has also vocally encouraged members to attend the protest.

But C.CAWDU vice president Kong Athit, said his union is neither encouraging nor discouraging its members.

“I think each organisation has its own strategy for political participation,” Athit said. “I would say it’s the decision of [each union’s] own members.”

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four

  • 8 provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,