Five former Budweiser “promotion girls” on Wednesday protested outside the Phnom Penh headquarters of Anco Brothers, the company that distributes the iconic American beer in Cambodia and is refusing to pay the women severance after firing them earlier this year.
On Tuesday, the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation (CFSWF) announced that eight women who promoted the Budweiser brand for years would mount daily protests until Anco Brothers honors its obligation to pay them, as ordered by the Arbitration Council.
On Wednesday morning, however, only five of the disgruntled women participated, with the other three backing out due to sickness, said San Sopha, CFSWF’s legal officer.
Standing beside the five, who held placards threatening boycotts of Budweiser, Evian water and 555 cigarettes—all Anco Brothers brands—Mr. Sopha derided the company’s assertion that the women had never signed contracts with the firm.
“They had an unlimited labor contract—or unwritten—because they worked regularly under Anco’s management,” he said.
Mr. Sopha said this had already been determined by the Arbitration Council on the basis that the company was the sole distributor of Budweiser in Cambodia and therefore responsible for its employees.
“They looked to see if Anco’s deal gave it rights to personnel management. And yes, it did, so Anco is the official employer of [Budweiser] beer promoters,” he said, adding that the women did not understand the terms of a one-month payout they had signed.
Chhum Moha Kosal, a representative of Anco Brothers, could not be reached Wednesday, but on Tuesday said the women were never employed by the company.
Un Sotheary, 40, who began working as a Budweiser promoter in 1998, said it was true that she never signed a contract.
“I have been forced to drink, threatened with guns…but the company didn’t treat us as human beings,” she said.
“After the abrupt dismissal, I was paid my last salary and an additional $130.”