Taking a new approach to strikes, workers at about 100 garment factories in Cambodia are likely to refuse overtime work from this week, reports The Phnom Penh Post.
In Cambodia, employees generally work two to four hours more than their regular eight-hour shift each day. But, to press their seven-point demand, including a raise in the monthly minimum wage to US$ 160 per month, a group of 18 unions and confederations have come together and are encouraging garment workers to refuse overtime, says the report.
In case there is no progress in addressing their demands, even after refusing to work overtime, the unions plan to stage a stay-at-home strike in mid-March.
Meanwhile, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has warned that 80 percent of garment factories in the Kingdom would either close or move to other countries, if the union leaders continue to protest to demand $160 per month minimum wage, as employers would not be able to afford to pay too high wage.
In late December 2013, Cambodian garment industry was forced to remain shut for about 10 days, following six trade bodies—C.Cawdu, Niftuc, CUMW, FTUWKC, CCU and CATU—demanding raising the minimum wage of workers to $160 per month from the then existing $80 per month, including a $5 health bonus.
The strike ended after the Government issued a temporary ban on all forms of demonstrations and garment units reopened on January 6 this year.
Subsequently, a new wage structure, offering $100 monthly minimum wage, including a $5 health bonus, is being implemented from this month at garment factories in Cambodia.
The garment sector is the main foreign exchange earner for Cambodia, accounting for about 80 percent of the country’s overall exports. It employs over 300,000 workers, with more than 90 percent of them being female.
The exports of apparel earned US$ 5.52 billion for Cambodia in 2013, registering a rise of sharp 20 percent over $4.61 billion exports made in 2012, according to the data from the Ministry of Commerce.