Former City Workers Protest Move to Private Firm

About 60 workers who were transferred to a private company that recently reached a deal to install LED streetlights in Phnom Penh met on Wednesday with municipal governor Pa Socheatvong to air their grievances.

The meeting followed a protest in front of the city’s public works department on Monday by former members of two department units: public lighting and gardens.

The workers told Mr. Socheatvong on Wednesday that they did not want to be employees of Phnom Penh Engineering Development and Construction, the company contracted by the municipal government to install and manage 10,000 LED streetlights in exchange for the rights to manage billboards in the city.

The 20-year deal was announced on July 18. The workers said they were given little information about the new company or its ownership.

“We were transferred to a vague private company” on July 18, said Por Kunnara, formerly of the gardens unit.

During Wednesday’s meeting with City Hall, “we didn’t get a solution from them. They only gave their reasons for the decision, but didn’t allow us to ask questions,” he said.

City Hall spokesman Mean Chanyada said the workers had two choices: “either to work for the company or to resign and work somewhere else.”

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