Striking Power Plant Trainees Get Wage Raise

More than 170 trainees at a Chinese-backed power plant under construction in Preah Sihanouk province ended a five-day protest on Monday after securing higher wages from their employer, according to a union representative and provincial official.

Khmer Workers Power Federation Union president Chey Sovann, who negotiated with representatives of Chinese-Cambodian owned CIIDG Erdos Hong-jun Electric Power Co. on behalf of the trainees, said the 173 protesters resumed their training Tuesday after securing concessions to most of their demands on Monday.

He said the company agreed to raise the monthly wages of lower paid trainees from $110 to $125 and of higher paid trainees from $130 to $140. The firm also agreed to hike their wages to $350 a month after the trainees pass their exams in December.

“The trainees returned to their training because the company owner agreed to the protesters’ demands; the remaining problems will be solved later at the national arbitration council,” Mr. Sovann said.

CIIDG Erdos deputy general director Ly Han Kheang confirmed he took part in the negotiations but declined further comment. The company is building a 405 MW coal-powered plant in Stung Hav district.

Provincial labor department deputy director Ke Oudom, who also participated in the negotiations, said the six demands the firm agreed to were to: raise wages; allow workers to unionize; adhere to all local labor laws; not take punitive action against any of the protesters; not punish minor transgressions and let workers take all public holidays.

He said their request for a $1 lunch allowance and a $15 monthly attendance bonus were still under consideration.

“We asked the protesters to return to their training and we will continue to try to solve the remaining problems at the national arbitration council,” he said.

Buot Chamrong, one of the protesters, said the company would often ignore local labor laws and had handed out booklets of Chinese labor regulations, written in Chinese for them to follow instead.

“We protested to demand that the company respect Cambodian labor laws because so far they have implemented Chinese laws to put pressure on us,” he said.

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