As many as 1,000 workers from 75 factories threatened Sunday to strike, saying the commune election registration process was so badly organized that they may be forced to try to register again, and therefore lose more days of their allowed annual leave.
Workers said many of them could not register for the commune elections because factory owners wouldn’t give them enough time off or commune officials wouldn’t allow them to register. Workers were supposed to be given half-a-day to four days off to travel to their home commune to register to vote. But workers said when they tried to register, they were asked for bribes or told to go to a different registration site, among other problems. Workers who were confused by the process also failed to register.
Factory worker Meas Pisey said she was turned away from registering in Phnom Penh’s Stung Meanchey commune after an official said she needed a certificate from the village chief. Another worker, Sea Thyda, said only two of 64 workers in her factory group have registered so far
The Sam Rainsy Party blamed the National Election Committee for the confusion. NEC officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Workers can take extra time off to register correctly, but the workers said factory owners could then withhold bonuses or annual time off or fire them.
“We might strike if our annual bonus or annual leave is cut,” said Peov Nara, a worker from the Luan Thai garment factory. He said that even though Luan Thai owners did not give workers time off to register, employees still left to register because “according to the law, we have a special right to vote.”
Luan Thai officials could not be reached for comment.
Wang Hsin, head of the Cambodia Shoe Industry Association, said he would allow any worker who missed the registration more time off.
But he said workers would be required to compensate factory owners by working two hours extra for several days, as required under Article 171 of the labor law.