The Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) sent a letter to the Ministry of Labor yesterday requesting that all of the country’s factory owners pay workers their salary earlier than usual ahead of Khmer New Year.
Workers are normally paid from the fifth to the 10th of each month for the work they have done the month before. But CATU is requesting that workers receive an additional payment for the 13 days they work leading up to the New Year holiday, which begins on April 13 and runs for three days.
“I request that all employers please pay workers for the time period from April 1 to 13 in addition to the March salary to allow workers to have money to go home,” CATU President Yang Sophoan said.
Because buses, taxis and vans charge more during Khmer New Year, she said, “some workers only have enough money to pay for traveling home and aren’t able to spend for the holiday because everything becomes expensive.”
Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labor, said the ministry would not obligate factories to pay workers ahead of time.
“It’s not in the Labor Law for employers to pay workers for less than a month,” he said. “But if they want to, they can.”
Van Sou Ieng, chairman for the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, also said that it was the decision of each individual factory whether or not workers get an advance on their salary for April.
“Each factory has its own cash flow. If they can afford paying [in advance], they will, but if they can’t, they won’t. There is no law saying they have to,” he said.
Yin Nak, administration chief of M&V International Manufacturing Ltd, said his factory will pay workers their March salary on April 10, but that any advance was out of the question.
“We can’t pay the April salary in advance, since the workers won’t have worked yet,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Claire Luke)