As Wing Star Shoes Strike Enters Third Day, Workers Block Road

Thousands of workers at the Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd. on Wednesday blocked the road to the factory in Kompong Speu province for two hours. They demanded the company raise their bonuses by $5 and properly enforce labor laws after arbitration talks failed Tuesday.

It was the third day in a row that thousands of workers have protested outside the Wing Star Factory, officials said.

“We blocked the road to push the company to find a solution for the workers’ demands,” said Phorn Phal, deputy secretary-general of the Free Trade Union, which has organized the strike. “We don’t want to protest, but we have no choice to get an appropriate solution from the company’s owner.”

He said the workers stood side by side across National Road 3 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.

The roadblock ended when provincial authorities requested they move and promised to find a solution, Mr. Phal said.

The workers’ demands include an increase from $10 to $15 in monthly bonuses, which help cover lunch and transportation costs. They also want the company to stop forcing employees to work overtime and to remove male security guards from outside the factory’s female restrooms.

On Tuesday, worker representatives met with officials from Wing Star Shoes and the government. They did not come to an agreement.

Provincial deputy governor Pen Sambo and provincial labor department director, Sim Rattanak, attended a meeting Wednesday with Wing Star Shoes officials. They said later that an agreement remained elusive.

“I and my deputy governor met with the company’s representatives to find a solution for the workers, but the company still kept their strong stance and did not cooperate with us to solve the problem,” Mr. Rattanak said. “I will contact the company and worker representatives for a meeting tomorrow to renegotiate.”

Mao Chhiv Song, an adviser to Wing Star Shoes, said Wednesday his company has lost about $150,000 per day during the strike. He said he was pessimistic about reaching a solution at a meeting planned Friday.

“We don’t think that the problem will be solved because the company has lost a lot of money during the strike,” he said.

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