FTU Moves To Strike in Effort To Increase Wages

Free Trade Union representatives voted unanimously Sunday to strike at three garment factories af­ter calls for the government to raise the minimum wage went unanswered, according FTU President Chea Mony.

Due to the pressures of inflation, the FTU is demanding that the government raise the minimum wage for garment workers from $50 to $55, Chea Mony said, adding that the strike will begin Thursday and last for three days.

“If the government fails to res­pond to our request [after the three-day strike], we will strike for another week,” he said, declining to name which factories will be affected.

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Sunday that it was up to the Labor Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives from Ministry of Labor, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia and the Cambodian Union Federation, to set the minimum wage.

“[Chea Mony] should not blame the government,” Khieu Kanharith said.

Ministry of Labor Under­secre­tary of State Oum Mean said that the FTU is only one of 29 union federations in the country and that an agreement between all garment employees and the Labor Advisory Committee is needed in order to raise the minimum wage.

“If [Chea Mony] wants to succeed, he must talk to other unions,” he said.

“A solution is not the strike,” he added.

GMAC President Van Sou Ieng said he was too busy to comment Sunday.

Chea Mony said the FTU had to act alone in calling a strike because the CUF is a ruling party-affiliated union and does not have the workers’ interests in mind.

CUF President Chhoun Mom Thol said that officials in his union were elected democratically but added that his union is affiliated with the CPP.

“Chea Mony is a Sam Rainsy union and [the CUF] is Hun Sen’s union,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe that the FTU will strike.

He added that the Labor Advi­sory Committee’s members have signed a contract to freeze the minimum wage until 2010.

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