Unions Plan Garment Sector Strike Next Month

Two unions are planning to hold a strike in the garment sector in mid-September as part of their ongoing campaign to demand an increase to the minimum wage, a leader of one of the unions said yesterday. 

Ath Thon, chairman of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, said the CLC had received approval from its members to organize the strike, which it will hold together with the Cambodian National Confederation, led by Morn Nhim, from Sept 13 to 18. The strikers will demand a wage of between $75 and $93 per month.

“We will just strike in the factories, we will not march to the city,” Mr Thon said, explaining that garment workers would stage sit-downs in their factories.

He said the strike was a reaction to widespread resentment among garment workers at the Labor Advisory Committee’s decision last month to raise the minimum wage in the garment sector just $5 to $61 per month.

“One hundred percent of the workers are not happy with the new minimum wage,” Mr Thon said, adding that his organization had collected 60,000 workers’ thumbprints in support of the strike.

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, dismissed the unions’ demands yesterday, saying the CLC and CNC only represented a minority of the garment sector workforce.

“Whatever number they claim to represent, I consider them a minority as we have 300,000 workers,” he said.

Asked if GMAC would consider meeting the two unions’ wage demands, Mr Loo, replied, “Absolutely not. It’s over. LAC made a decision, so we have to respect it.”

Mr Thon also said the CLC sent a letter on Friday to Pa Angtoni, a member of the Council of Jurists within the Council of Ministers, to inform him that the CLC’s actions in support of a wage increase were in accordance with “the unions rights and obligations…under the law.”

Last week, Mr Angtoni said in televised remarks that he would examine whether union leaders could be sued if they continued to campaign for a further increase to the minimum wage.

Oum Mean, secretary of state for the Ministry of Labor, said the ministry had no plans to take legal action against the unions for organizing the strike, saying only, “If they violate the law, they will face the law and court.”



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