Workers, firm reach agreement after strike at Vattanac tower

Some 700 construction workers reached an agreement with the builders of the 38-story Vattanac Capital tower in Phnom Penh yesterday after striking for better pay and work conditions since Wednesday, a union leader and company officials said.

Representatives of South Korean subcontractor Doosong agreed to half of the 24 demands submitted by workers after two hours of negotiations yesterday, said Sok Sovandeith, director of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union of Cambodia, who took part in the negotiations. Mr Sovandeith added that two labor dispute inspectors from the Ministry of Labor were also present.

“All the workers are happy and accepted this result,” he said.

Doosong agreed to increase wages to $4 a day from $3.50, and to pay in full employees who call in sick, he said. The firm also agreed not to force employees to work overtime and to provide onsite doctors and toilets, but it rejected a demand to sack certain supervisors, he said.

A Doosong supervisor who declined to be named denied that the company forced anyone to work overtime and said the dispute was a result of a misunderstanding.

“Both sides agreed to the 12 points, which are priorities for our construction workers,” he said.

Construction worker Nuth Chan, 35, said at the site of yesterday’s work stoppage that workers went on strike because “the company forced us to work overtime from 6 pm to 9 pm and sometimes until 11 pm or midnight.” Workers who refused were fired, he added.

“I have worked here about one year, but recently the company changed working conditions,” he said.

YK Park, project manager for Posco Construction and Engineering, which subcontracts to Doosong, said construction of the Vattanac Properties-funded tower would begin as early as tomorrow [Saturday].

“We now settled,” Mr Park said via telephone. “Maybe Saturday we keep working.”

Mr Park said the building is scheduled for completion in September 2012 after work began in March this year.

   (Additional reporting by Clancy McGilligan)


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