Pro-opposition's trade unions rally against low wage hike for 2014 in Cambodia

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-12-25 13:40:56

An estimated 3,000 garment workers from various factories rallied at the capital's Freedom Park on Wednesday to protest against the low wage hike for 2014.

The strike was led by pro-opposition trade unions.

It happened a day after the government decided to raise a monthly minimum wage for a garment worker to 95 US dollars from April onwards from the current 80 US dollars.

Labor Minister Ith Samheng said Tuesday that the government also set to raise 15 US dollars for 2015, 16 US dollars for 2016 and 17 US dollars in both 2017 and 2018, so a garment worker will fetch a monthly minimum wage of 160 US dollars from 2018.

However, pro-opposition's trade unions demanded to double the wage for workers from 2014.

"We demand the garment manufacturers to raise a worker's monthly wage to 160 US dollars from 2014,"said Ath Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union.

On Wednesday, Sam Rainsy, president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), also joined thousands of striking workers at the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in eastern Svay Rieng province, according to his Facebook Page.

Meanwhile, Kem Sokha, CNRP's vice-president, led around 3,000 garment workers and supporters to march through streets in eastern Kampong Cham province.

The Ministry of Labor on Tuesday urged workers to keep calm and continue working as usual in order to contribute to maintaining social order, stability and security.

"The Ministry of Labor would like to call on all employees to avoid any action that could fall into the political trap of the opportunists and could affect the interests of the workers and the whole nation,"the statement said.

The opposition CNRP has been inciting garment workers to come on streets as it has held a new round of daily protests in capital Phnom Penh since Dec. 15 to demand Prime Minister Hun Sen to step down or to call a snap election following allegations of serious irregularities during the July election.

Garment industry is the country's largest foreign currency earner, accounting for about 80 percent of the country's overall exports. The sector comprises about 500 factories with some 510, 600 workers.

The country exported garment products in equivalent to 5 billion US dollars in the first 11 months of this year, up 22 percent year-on-year, according to a report of the Commerce Ministry.

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