Sacked Gardeners, Too Scared To Protest, Still Want Compensation

More than 40 municipal gardeners aborted a protest yesterday in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Phnom Penh residence over the laying off of almost 300 temporary municipal workers, saying that the turnout for the demonstration was too small and the police presence was too strong.

City Hall announced earlier this month that 271 of the 543 so-­called temporary gardeners the ci­­ty employs will be let go in Jan­uary.

Sek Phally, 35, a gardener who has worked for the municipality for nearly 20 years, said yesterday that the workers planned to ask Mr Hun Sen to offer them compensation equal to a year’s salary, or about $730. But rumors of arrest scared the gardeners from protesting and they rescheduled for today, Ms Phally added. She said the group met with Ket Chhe, city hall deputy cabinet chief, several times but he told the gardeners that the city would not compensate them.

“We want to go to Samdech Hun Sen’s house to request him to help us because we have no hope with City Hall,” she said. “Only Sam­dech can help us.”

One of around 20 Daun Penh district policemen gathered near Mr Hun Sen’s house declined to give his name, but said it was a safety protocol to have police present at protests.

Nhem Saran, director of the mun­icipal department of public works and transportation, said the gardeners are listed as temporary or contract workers, which entitles them to no redundancy compensation from his department although the city might make them an offer.

“They are contract workers, they signed the contract every year,” he

“There is no policy to provide compensation to them.”

He added that the government ordered half of the temporary or contract workers fired nationwide.

“This is the policy of the government,” he said in regards to the contracts. “It is only cutting 50 per­cent of contract workers from my department but it also includes cuts in all ministries and institutions.”

Municipal Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong said City Hall wants to find an agreement acceptable to both parties.

“We are working on this issue,” he said yesterday, but declined to give details.

 

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