Cambodia’s garment manufacturers calls on gov’t to curb illegal strikes

Phnom Penh – The Garment Manufacturers Associations in Cambodia (GMAC) on Sunday urged the government to curb outlawed garment strikes that have occurred this week at Special Economic Zones in eastern Bavet City, which are expected to continue next week.

“GMAC is disappointed that the government and local authorities let such illegal action happen and have no effective measures to prevent it,” GMAC said in a statement.

“GMAC envisages that this outlawed action is evolving to violence because strikers had hurled stones at factories, threatened other workers not to work, and destroyed factories’ properties,” it said.

It said the strikes will spread to other industrial zones if there are no preventive measures.

“We’d like to appeal to the Ministry of Labor and local authorities to implement their roles in curbing these illegal strikes immediately in order to ensure security and safety for investors and workers who wish to work,” the statement.

The statement also called on striking workers to return to work, or they will not be paid on striking days.

The statement came after thousands of garment and footwear workers at three Special Economic Zones in Bavet City had staged strikes throughout this week to demand the 50 U.S. dollars that they claimed that factory owners had promised to give them when they did not join a post-New Year strike, which was organized by eight opposition-aligned trade unions in mid-April.

GMAC denied that factories had made such promise and accused the opposition-aligned trade unions of fabricating this information after they failed to attract workers for their post- New Year wage demanding strike.

Officials at the Ministry of Labor could not be reached for comments on Sunday.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, one of the opposition-aligned unions, said Sunday that workers in those zones will continue their strikes on Monday if their demand remains unmet.

Wage dispute in the garment sector remains hot in this Southeast Asian nation since pro-opposition trade unions, which represent about 19 percent of the total workers, are still demanding the government and GMAC to increase the minimum wages to 160 U.S. dollars a month, but the government said the demand is too high to afford.

The current minimum wage is 100 U.S. dollars a month.

The garment and footwear industry, the kingdom’s largest foreign exchange earner, comprises 960 factories with about 620, 000 workers. The sector earned 5.5 billion U.S. dollars in revenues last year. Source: Xinhua