The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia notified members last week they must follow the nation’s labor law and give workers paid vacations, garment factory owners said Sunday.
The notice had nothing to do with government critic Sam Rainsy’s call last week for a general factory strike April 10 unless the labor law is followed, said Lee Thai Khit, first vice chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia.
A spokesman for the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, of which Sam Rainsy is an adviser, said they were unaware of the garment factories’ decision and could not say what impact it would have on strike plans.
The announcement was made at a press conference Sunday with Cambodian-American businessman Ted Ngoy and the organization he founded a year and a half ago, the Cambodian Federation of Free Unions.
Ted Ngoy presented a document signed by Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, that said its members have agreed to comply with the labor law. Specifically, the agreement says workers are allowed 18 days of paid vacation after one year of work or must receive financial compensation.
“They must [follow the labor law]. They signed,” Ted Ngoy said. “If they do not follow the law, then we will bring that complaint and negotiate.”
This is the first action the group, which is made up of 60 unions, has undertaken since it began, Ted Ngoy said.
Owners of five garment factories contacted Sunday said they either have been following or will follow the labor law. Some, however, questioned whether the regulations will be enforced.
“We will follow the labor law, but if there are factories that do not, what can we do?” said Alan Choy, director of Gennon Cambodia Garment Manufacturing Ltd.
A spokesman at the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia said it will continue to push for better salaries for garment factory workers.
Workers deserve double pay, or at least $70 every month, in their second year of employment, the spokesman said. The salary increase would fulfill one of the stipulations in the labor law saying a worker’s income has to be able to ensure adequate living conditions, he said.
The National Assembly passed the labor law last year to bring Cambodia up to international standards.
Sam Rainsy has led many strikes recently, complaining that the law has not been properly put into effect.