Workers Get Paid Leave to Register, Vote

In a decision hailed by union leaders, factory workers will be given paid leave to register and to vote in July’s legislative elections, the National Election Committee announced on Friday.

NEC spokesman Leng Sochea said an agreement was reached with the Ministry of Labor and So­cial Affairs to give workers as many as four days off at the end of this month to register to vote.

In addition, workers who come from the provinces but live and work in Phnom Penh can choose whether to register in their home provinces or in the city, according to the directive issued Friday by the ministry.

For the 2002 local elections, workers were forced to register in their home provinces, and days they took off to go home and register could be subtracted from their yearly vacation time. “This system is better [than before] be­cause workers don’t have to worry about their bonuses,” Chhorn Sokha, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers, said Sunday.

The number of days’ leave varies. Those registering in Phnom Penh have one day, Feb 1, to register and another day off on Election Day, July 27, according to the directive. Workers voting in the nearby provinces of Kam­pot, Kandal, Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Cham, Kom­pong Speu, Kompong Thom, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Takeo and Sihanoukville municipality have three days, Jan 31 through Feb 2, to register. They have another three days, July 26 through July 28, to vote.

Workers voting in the remaining provinces and municipalities have four days, Jan 31 through Feb 3, to register and four more, July 25 through July 28, to vote, the directive says. Under the directive, factory management may not cut workers’ salaries or bonuses if they take these days off.

“Since workers can take off work to register and vote, I hope workers will participate in the election,” NEC Secretary-General Tep Nitha said Sunday. Chhorn Sokha said unions were consulted in the NEC decision and agreed to the plan.

The coalition is now contacting its members to educate them about the directive’s provisions, she said.



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