Restoration workers at Angkor Wat are demanding that the Apsara Authority and two Japanese restoration organizations increase their salaries, adopt standard practices and recognize their unions.
“They claim they are international nonprofit organizations helping Cambodia so they do not recognize the unions,” Rath Rot Mony, president of the Cambodian Construction Workers Trade Union Federation, said Sunday.
Rath Rot Mony said the union has six branches representing Angkor Wat workers, but the Japanese Government Team for Safeguarding Angkor (JSA), Sophia Angkor International Mission and Apsara Authority have not recognized them. He said the union is demanding workers receive at least $75 per month. He said many are only making $50.
The workers held one 30-minute sit-in strike on Jan 12, but a second strike six days later was called off after police interfered, Rath Rot Mony said.
The union plans to sit down Tuesday with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to ask for support and hopes to meet with Minister of Labor and Vocational Training Nhep Bunchin soon, Rath Rot Mony said. He said if an agreement is not reached within two weeks, workers will hold demonstrations inside the Angkor Wat compound.
Tamara Teneishvili, standing secretariat for the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site at Angkor, which falls under Unesco, confirmed the Tuesday meeting.
The Apsara Authority, JSA and Sophia Angkor had initially refused to recognize the unions because they were international non-profit organizations, but she thought that had since changed. She said all the organizations operate differently but said most of the teams were already working well.
Soeung Kong, general director of the Apsara Authority, said Sunday his organization respects the Labor Law and is not discriminating against unions. Representatives from JSA and Sophia Angkor declined to comment Sunday.