A Phnom Penh-based union for beer promoters and hostesses established a branch in Siem Reap on Monday to improve working conditions there that include low wages, sexual harassment and health hazards, union officials said.
Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food Service Workers Federation, said the newly created Siem Reap branch “is in the process of organizing” and in the future would negotiate with employers.
Mr Mora claimed that working conditions in Cambodia’s tourist hub can be even worse than in the capital. For example, he said beer promoters receive less annual leave in Siem Reap than in Phnom Penh.
Phal Sophear on Monday was elected president of the union’s Siem Reap branch, which she said currently counted seven other members. Ms Sophear said she herself was sexually harassed by customers and employers when she worked as a beer promoter for roughly nine years.
“Lots of service women in Siem Reap have their rights violated. Especially there is sexual harassment,” she said. “The union will stand beside them, demanding the equal rights and the suitable wage.”
CFSWF was founded in 2007 and now has some 1,500 members in the capital, a diverse group that includes garbage collectors, according to Mr Mora. There are about 310 beer promoters in the union in Phnom Penh, he said.
Sat Salim, deputy director of the Legal Protection Department at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, welcomed the creation of the Siem Reap branch of the union.
“It is good to create the union, because it will protect the women’s rights, and eliminate discrimination, sexual harassment and labor abuse by employers or customers,” Ms Salim said. “Women will not feel alone anymore. They will have a lot of women to encourage them and help them when they have problems.”
Researchers Michelle Green and Ian Lubek said in an April statement that beer promoters and hostesses “constantly were pressured to drink on the job” and that “workplaces featured harassment, violence and sexual coercion, with little recourse to shift supervisors for help.” The duo based their findings on interviews with more than 900 beer promoters and hostesses from 2004 to 2010.