FTU postpones scheduled strike, citing progress in wage negotiations

The Free Trade Union has suspended its plans for a three-day strike scheduled for this week, saying it has made progress in negotiations with the Garment Manufacturing Association in Cambodia, which represents industry employers.

FTU President Chea Mony said yesterday he had told garment workers represented by his union that a work stoppage scheduled for July 13 to 15 would not proceed because GMAC had agreed to a meeting to negotiate a possible increase in overtime allowances for food and an extension of seniority payments.

“We’ve suspended it to make time for a bilateral meeting with GMAC in July,” Mr Mony said.

The FTU announced in May that it would strike if the minimum wage was not raised by at least $20.

The Labor Advisory Committee last week voted to increase the minimum wage to $61 from $50 starting in October. The new figure also includes a $6 living allowance that workers had previously received separately.

Mr Mony said yesterday he believed it was impossible to raise the minimum wage by more than $5 due to Cambodia’s current economic situation.

“Generally, the minimum wage is based on the economic situation,” he said. “If we demand a minimum wage higher than $70, investors will not come to Cambodia, but we can instead demand other kinds of payments.”

Ken Loo, secretary-general of GMAC, declined to comment yesterday on the issue, saying that he had not yet received a letter from Mr Mony about the proposed meeting.

Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labor, said that the ministry welcomed the suspension of the strike and would continue to encourage GMAC and the FTU to negotiate.

“This is a good and thoughtful decision because workers have already gained a lot of interest from the LAC,” he said. “We will allow this bilateral meeting to discuss all payments except for renegotiating the minimum wage.”

Ath Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said yesterday that CCAWDU would hold a meeting on July 25 to decide whether to hold its own strike over the minimum wage.


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