More than 30 security guards from Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district briefly went on strike on Monday, although officials gave differing reasons for the dispute.
The city’s district security guards are ostensibly hired to keep order, but in practice often end up being deployed in lieu of police to break up protests, and have been involved in numerous violent brawls over the past several years.
Mean Chanyada, spokesman for City Hall, said the Dangkao guards placed their uniforms and helmets at the gates of the district office for two hours while demanding a daily lunch stipend but claimed they returned to work upon reaching a deal with their bosses after two hours.
“All security guard staff working for the municipality and districts have contracts. The state has provided a salary of $100 per month from this year,” Mr. Chanyada said.
“The strike in Dangkao, they wanted lunch pay, but now they have already returned back to work because they reached an agreement,” he said.
“The staff with contracts, even when working overtime, we have to provide them lunch,” he said, explaining that a stipend would be paid but declining to divulge how much.
Despite Mr. Chanyada’s claims that the dispute was over lunch pay, district governor Nuth Puthdara said the guards had simply become disgruntled after being told that they needed to be at work by 7 a.m. sharp.
“There was confusing information. In fact, they went on strike when I ordered them to attend work on time because there are a lot of traffic jams, so we want them to be at the office early,” Mr. Puthdara said. “They are the same as police and military police.”
“Before they volunteered to be security guards they knew the rules of authority at work,” he added.
Members of the Dangkao security guards declined to clarify the reason for their strike. Deputy district governor Prach Seyha, who oversees them, confirmed that the strike was over money, but would not elaborate on the details of the dispute.
“We already solved the issue with them. This is not big news. You don’t need to know,” Mr. Seyha said.