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Unions demand compensation, intervention amid pandemic

Sen David / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Union representatives submit a petition to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office on Labour Day. CLC

A group of unions sent a joint letter on Friday to Prime Minister Hun Sen suggesting the government ensure that furloughed employees receive 60 percent of their wages during COVID-19.

The joint letter signed by the Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC), the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) and the Cambodian Tourism and Service Worker’s Federation – all of which represent 226 local unions with 100,000 workers from eight sectors in the country – was sent on May 1 in conjunction with the Labour Day.

The unions said the government must ensure suspended workers receive 20 percent of their wages from the government and 40 percent from their respective employers.

The unions also suggested the government increase the minimum wage from $190 to $250 for garment workers and enforce fixed wages to workers in the construction, tourist, services, transportation and other sectors.

They also asked for the government’s intervention in cases where employers shut down operations or terminate workers to avoid remuneration of compensation and additional benefits to workers.

CLC president Ath Thorn said yesterday that since February, the labour sector has been reeling from a series of economic blows spurred by the EBA withdrawal and COVID-19.

“Many problems have arisen this year, which have affected the wages of employees in all sectors. Thus, they are demanding for the government to find solutions for them,” said Mr Thorn.

Besides the wage problem, he said some employees who demanded better labour conditions through unions were also faced with wrongful termination.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said, in light of the economic downturns from the pandemic, top brands must increase the minimum wage by 40 percent for workers in the Cambodian supply chain.

Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, C.CAWDU, CUMW and Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia said they need all brands to honour all placed orders, whether completed or in production.

They said brands must exercise due diligence by initiating dialogues with suppliers and trade unions to find viable solutions in place of terminations and suspensions, as well as mitigate health and safety risk in the workplace.

In celebration of Labour Day, Prime Minister Hun Sen in a statement said global economies have incurred substantial losses due to the pandemic. In response, he said the government has waived four months’ worth of tax payments for owners of hotels and guesthouses. It has also granted wages to affected employees in the tourism sector.

Mr Hun Sen added tax payments have also been waived for garment factory owners who were forced to temporarily halt productions during the pandemic. Moreover, he said the government has urged relevant institutions to suspend the payment of utility, interest rates and loans.

However, Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said recently 130 factories have so far applied for suspension of operations, affecting 100,000 of its workers.

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