Plantation Workers Seek Permission To Strike

Workers on Ratanakkiri’s “solidarity group” rubber plantations submitted a request to the provincial government Friday asking to strike and demonstrate for the removal of a senior staffer at the Tai Seng Rubber Company, officials said.

Provincial cabinet chief Nab Bun Heng said he had accepted the re­quest from a group of 200 solidarity group workers, though he added that the proposed June 4 strike would not be allowed.

“They should not strike. It is just one individual,” Nab Bun Heng said. “I will find a compromise to avoid the strike.”

Om Nan, head of the Tai Seng unit responsible for rubber resin purification, said Friday that he had already resigned in response to the controversy, though he denied allegations by Solidarity Group 14 that he had cheated the solidarity groups by underestimating the amount of rubber sold.

Solidarity Group 14 co-owner Chhe Chan said Friday he had not received official notification of Om Nan leaving his post, so he would continue pursuing permission for the strike until he received a letter from the company’s owner, Ly Hong Sin. Ly Hong Sin could not be reached for comment.

The incident is the latest chapter in a long-running dispute between Tai Seng and the solidarity groups. The solidarity groups’ operators say villagers working for them should accept the prices they offer and have no right to sell to anyone else. In December, eight plantation work­ers were charged with theft after selling rubber directly to Tai Seng at 70 percent of the market price. The operators of Solidarity Group 14 pay workers 50 percent of the market price.

The solidarity groups are essentially collective farm hold­overs from the communist 1980s, whereby the workers must sell their rubber to the operators.

By virtue of a government concession granted to the Tai Seng company in 2000, the solidarity group operators are required to sell their resin to Tai Seng.

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