Garment Unions To Decide Whether To Strike Today

Garment unions will decide to­day whether to issue a strike ultimatum after a third round of minimum wage negotiations stalled Sa­t­ur­day, union leaders said Sunday.

The Garment Manufacturers As­sociation of Cambodia on Saturday of­fered a $2.75 increase to the $45 a month minimum wage, up only $0.70 from their stance in Sept 18 talks, union officials said. Unions are still demanding between $60 and $63 per month.

“If there is no solution, the unions must go on strike,” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coa­li­tion of Cambodian Apparel Work­ers Democratic Union. “If the speed remains like this, talks will take another year,” he said.

Seventeen unions will meet today to decide whether to threaten a general strike, he said.

GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo said his organization had no com­ment on the ongoing negotiations, but might if a strike ultimatum is issued. “Let’s wait and see what the unions say,” he said.

Chhuon Mom Thol, president of the CPP-affiliated Cambodian Union Federation, said he walked out of Saturday’s talks before they were halted after three and half hours.

“GMAC doesn’t want to raise the wages, I am fed up with the negotiations,” said Chhuon Mom Thol, who is an adviser to Interior Minister Sar Kheng. He said his union has already agreed to reduce its demand from $81 a month to $60.

Chhuon Mom Thol added that if a strike is decided upon it would likely be scheduled for November or December to give GMAC time to consider the consequences.

Free Trade Union President Chea Mony said he is willing to give GMAC more time but wants the next round of talks to occur sooner than the Oct 20 date proposed by GMAC.

“We will try our best [to negotiate] before going on strike,” he said.

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