Strikers Win Day Off to Vote

Garment workers from Phnom Penh’s Seng Yong factory will be paid overtime and given time off to vote in the election, union officials said Monday, after workers went on strike.

About 200 workers took part in the one-day strike Monday, de­manding time off with pay to take part in the poll.

They also demanded better terms and conditions for workers at the factory.

The employees demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Labor and Veteran Affairs before taking their protest to the US Embassy.

The Seng Yong management was requiring employees to work three extra days with no pay to cover a three-day factory closure over the election period, said officials from the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, who were leading negotiations.

After some discussion, the Taiwanese owner agreed to close the factory and pay workers overtime on election day, as well as give them a one-time bonus, according to a statement from Oum Navy, the union vice president.

The statement encouraged other factories to follow the example of the Seng Yong management. But Roger Tan, secretary-general of the Garment Manu­facturers’ Association, said many garment companies would not be affected.

“Voting takes place on a Sun­day so it is a public holiday anyway. It is up to the individual factories themselves,” he said.

The Sunday poll date requires no special guidelines for employers, added the National Election Committee’s Prum Nhien Vichet.

“The NEC has not taken this issue into consideration because the election day will be on a Sunday,” he said.

And municipal authorities in the capital said they were still un­sure as to whether they would issue any guidelines to businesses for election day.

“Until now the Phnom Penh municipality has only issued a guideline to prevent the consumption of alcohol from midnight on the 25th of July until the end of the election,” said Mann Chhoeun, chief of Cabinet for Phnom Penh municipality.

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