Caltex Workers End Strike After Agreeing to $20 Pay Increase

Hundreds of Caltex workers across Phnom Penh will resume work Thursday after an agreement was reached with U.S. oil giant Chevron on Wednesday to increase their monthly salaries by $20, a union official said.

About 300 workers from 17 stations in Phnom Penh began striking on May 12 to demand a minimum monthly wage of $160.

Chevron, which operates under the brand name Caltex in Cambodia, negotiated a compromise with the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation after a three-hour meeting at their Phnom Penh office, according to union president Sar Mora.

“Though we are not fully satisfied, this was a success,” said Mr. Mora.

“It was a 10-day strike already and the workers wanted a conclusion,” he added. “This is a step in the right direction.”

Under the agreement, to be ratified Thursday as workers head back to their stations, cashiers will see their salaries jump to $150 and petrol pumpers will make $130, Mr. Mora said.

Mr. Mora was also asking for an annual bonus of one month’s salary for workers and an annual party, two battles he lost.

But Mr. Mora said he managed to secure the hiring of seven new cleaners and an agreement that workers not be docked any wages for their 10-day strike.

Chevron spokeswoman Chanlek Than declined to discuss the details of the agreement.

“Our offer to employees…shows our genuine interest to address our employees’ concerns,” she said in an emailed statement.

“We will resume operations at our service stations effective [Thursday].”

The agreement affects not only the 17 stations in Phnom Penh but also Chevron’s six Caltex stations in the provinces, where workers did not join the strike. Mr. Mora said his union did not have the resources to mobilize workers at the provincial stations, though he fought for them in negotiations.

However, workers at two privately owned Caltex franchises in Phnom Penh, one in Toek Thla commune and the other in Stung Meanchey commune, will not see any windfall from the labor action.

Ly Heng, a 29-year-old gas pumper at the Stung Meanchey station, said Wednesday he is only paid $75 per month and wanted to join the strike but had feared losing his job.

Mr. Heng said his station is owned by Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Major General Meas Vanna, a man he didn’t dare cross.

“When I see him, he makes me scared to strike,” Mr. Heng said.

Major General Vanna said at the station that he would not allow his staff to join the strike because “they make enough money already.”

Mr. Mora, the union leader, said his next steps now include finding a way to put pressure on Chevron to have its franchises meet the same standards as its own stations.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story said the agreement between Chevron and Caltex workers affects only the 17 stations in Phnom Penh but not the six Caltex stations in the provinces. The agreement, however, also affects the Caltex stations in the provinces.

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