No Pay for New Year, But Other Demands Met to End Strike
Several hundred striking garment workers marched to the National Assembly Thursday, demanding early payment of January’s salary so they could celebrate the Chinese New Year.
The protesters, who walked several kilometers from the Hong Kong-owned Eternal Way Ltd on Route 5 in Russei Keo district, also complained factory management had yet to start a promised $5 bonus system for employees who work a full month without absence. Workers also demanded guaranteed sick leave and a 15-minute break during overtime work.
More than 1,000 workers on strike at the factory went back to work Thursday evening when management agreed to give the bonus, the sick leave, the overtime break and to pay the salary on Monday, according to government and factory officials.
Demonstrators said they went on strike Tuesday because they believed the factory was required to pay the salary before the Chinese New Year because the Cambodian labor code states that an employer should pay wages before a national holiday when the payday comes on a holiday, according to officials of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
However, In Khemara, deputy director of the Ministry of Social Affairs’ labor inspection department, said Chinese New Year is not a national holiday so workers’ demand was groundless. “The workers agreed to receive the salary on [Monday], because they now understand the factory still needs time to prepare all the payments,” said In Khemara, who mediated the dispute.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy supported the protesters in front of the National Assembly, noting that protest is the only way to make others understand their hardship.
“All [issues] are settled. There is no more problem,” said a factory official who refused to identify himself.
(Additional reporting by Yuko Maeda)