GMAC Calls on Gov’t To Stop Union From Threatened Strike

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia has called on the Labor Ministry to stop the country’s largest garment workers’ union from holding a strike over current minimum wage levels, a GMAC official said yesterday.

Free Trade Union representatives voted on May 23 to strike if a joint policy-making body on labor, of which GMAC is a member, fails to approve a 20 percent raise over the current minimum wage for garment factory workers by today.

FTU President Chea Mony said last week that 200 FTU chiefs representing 80,000 FTU members are demanding that the Labor Ad­visory Committee, comprising representatives from the Labor Ministry, GMAC, and a CPP-affiliated labor union, bring the minimum wage from $55 to $75.

GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo wrote to Labor Minister Vong Soth on Wednesday to request that he put a stop to the strike threat.

“GMAC would like to seek intervention from all relevant competent authorities to take appropriate ac­tions against this threat and prevent similar incidents from happening in the future that will harm the reputation of the Cambodian garment industry,” Mr Loo wrote, according to a copy of his letter.

Mr Loo said in his letter that the country’s garment sector is just now starting to recover from the effects of the economic crisis.

“Reports [of strikes] such as this will once again frighten buyers and prevent them from placing orders,” he wrote.

Mr Loo said by telephone yesterday that he has not received a re­sponse from the Labor Ministry.

“The [pay] demand is too much, and we have a short time before the [FTU] deadline,” Mr Loo said. “It’s impossible; we need to sit down.”

Mr Mony said yesterday that the FTU has distributed 20,000 leaflets appealing to garment workers to strike if GMAC does not agree to raise the minimum wage by the end of today.

“GMAC must tell us how much money that GMAC is willing to raise,” Mr Mony said, adding that his organization is not optimistic that GMAC will comply. “We will continue the strike,” he said.

Mr Soth could not be reached for comment.

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