Outspoken government critic Sam Rainsy has called for a general factory strike on April 10 if factories do not agree to provide paid vacations for their workers.
“We will ask all workers at factories where the law is not implemented to stand outside their factories,” Sam Rainsy said Sunday.
The issue of paid vacations is the latest in the battle being waged by unions at the country’s garment and light manufacturers.
According to the labor law, an employer must give workers either 18 days of vacation a year or $27 in lieu of holidays after one year of working, and double that after two years of employment.
Kann Man, head of the National Assembly’s labor commission, said that about half of the factories obey the provision to provide paid vacation.
But Sam Rainsy said he believes only one factory, Malaysian-owned Pernas, has agreed to pay vacation time, and so far no money has yet been put forward.
The factory’s 2,000-strong work force went on strike earlier this month, demanding paid vacation and other financial bonuses for working overtime. The company conceded and has promised to pay the bonuses before Khmer New Year in mid-April, but workers have yet to receive any cash, Sam Rainsy said.
Sam Rainsy said he has applied for permission from authorities for the demonstration, which is targeted mainly at the garment industry and could bring tens of thousands of garment workers into the streets of Phnom Penh.
The strike will be canceled, he said, if factories agree to start paying their workers vacation pay.
Representatives for the Garment Manufacturers Association could not be reached for comment.
Kann Man said that while he supported a demonstration, he did not believe that Sam Rainsy should be one of the organizers.
“It’s good that [Sam Rainsy] helps them but it is wrong for him to push them into a demonstration,” he said.