Caltex Strikes Continue as Negotiations Flounder

Strikes at Phnom Penh’s Caltex stations will continue today after three hours of negotiations between the company, worker representatives, and government officials on Tuesday failed to reach an agreement, a union leader said.

“After the meeting we still don’t have any concrete results for the workers,” said Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation.

An estimated 300 workers began striking Monday morning to call for a monthly wage of $160 and various benefits, including an annual bonus equivalent to one month of pay.

According to Mr. Mora, the company agreed to the bonuses starting in March 2015, as well as several other demands, but said it needed time to discuss a salary increase and study whether it would be feasible.

Following a $20 pay rise in April most workers are now paid $110 a month, but they and their union say the increase has failed to keep up with inflation.

Mr. Mora said workers did not trust the company’s claim that it needs time to study the feasibility of a raise to $160.

“The company already had a long time to study it in the past and the raise they gave is still less than what people make at competing companies,” he said.

At the end of Tuesday’s negotiations, participants agreed to reconvene in a week.

Workers representative Yoeun Reth said he was disappointed by the outcome.

“Our main demand is that we get $160 and an annual salary equivalent to 13 months,” he said, adding that Caltex’s agreement to raise cashiers’ monthly pay by $10 was unacceptable.

Employee Seng Darachaom said workers had no intention to pause their strike while the company carried out a study.

“The workers cannot accept it,” he said. “The company has to let us know in advance how much they can give us.”

A spokeswoman for Chevron, which owns the Caltex brand, said the company was also frustrated by the outcome of Tuesday’s discussions.

“We are disappointed that the union continues to reject our proposals. We hope that our unionized employees will agree to resolve this matter amicably and to abandon their unlawful strike,” said Chanlek Than.

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