As the deadline for voter registration draws near, some labor leaders expressed concern this week that as many as half of Phnom Penh’s factory workers have not yet registered to vote.
“It’s a big problem,” a spokesman for the Cambodia Labor Organization said Wednesday. “There are only five days left but maybe 50 percent have not registered.”
But officials at the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia said Thursday they believe only 20 percent of factory employees remain unregistered.
The spokesman for the Cambodia Labor Organization blamed both factories and registration centers for the problems. Some registration officials have told factory workers there was no film for the cameras, he said, adding that some officials have asked workers who they will vote for, and declined to register them if they support the Sam Rainsy Party.
Hong Sokly, a worker at the Thai-owned CPG Garment Export, said Wednesday at a demonstration at the US Embassy that workers’ salaries had been cut if they took time off to register.
Another CPG Garment Export, Chan Nary, said Wednesday that she attempted to register seven times and had been turned away each time for various reasons.
National Election Committee officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Early into the four-week registration period, the NEC extended the closing time for registration centers from 5 pm to 7 pm. The NEC also urged factories to give employees time off to register.
Roger Tan, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, which represents nearly 100 factories, said the organization has urged its members to “cooperate.” But he acknowledged the association has no way of knowing whether factories follow the request.
Free Trade Union spokesman Chea Vichea said Thursday the third week of registration seemed to be going more smoothly and some factory owners allow workers to take time off.
by Debra Boyce, Saing Soenthrith, Pin Sisovann and Khuy Sokhoeun)