Union Says More Strikes if Demands Not Met

The Cambodian Labor Confederation yesterday announced that it would conduct further strikes if 800 workers dismissed during September’s strikes were not reinstated within three months and workers’ benefits improved.

Ath Thorn, president of CLC, said workers wanted employers to raise a daily overtime food allowance from 1000 riel to 2500 riel and a monthly attendance reward from $5 to $10.

They also want to increase a seniority bonus, paid as $2 per month, with an additional $1 for every year worked, up to a maximum of $5.

CLC ask for $2 per month with an additional $2 for every year of service, and that the $5 ceiling be removed.

“We still demand an increase of salary and other beneficiary bonuses because the offering salary is still limited,” Mr Thorn said at a press conference.

About 400 of the more than 800 workers who lost their jobs following a weeklong series of strikes in September, have still not been reinstated, Mr Thorn said, adding that if these 397 workers are not taken back by their employers, this would also be grounds for strike action.

“If our request is kicked out and workers are not accepted to work,” he said, “then, it will be a new strike and will be bigger than before.”

According to Reuters, the union Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union said the factories that dismissed the workers produced clothing for major Western companies including Marks and Spencer Group PLC, Tesco PLC and H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB.

Ken Loo, Secretary-General of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, said that he thought his members would consider improving the three benefits, although perhaps not to the level CLC demanded. However, he questioned the accuracy of Mr Thorn’s claim that 800 workers were fired and that 397 remain jobless.

“We asked around our members and the numbers are not what they say,” he said.

“It is not in the spirit of negotiation in good faith to organize a press conference and make announcements about negotiations that are still under way.”

   (Additional reporting by Lucy Jordan)

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