About 7,000 workers protested in front of the Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd. factory in Kompong Speu province on Monday, demanding that the company raise their bonuses by $5 and properly enforce a number of labor laws, a union official said.
The strike comes ten months after a ceiling in the factory collapsed and killed two workers.*
Workers are demanding that Wing Star raise their bonuses, which include lunch and transportation, from $10 to $15 per month, said Phorn Phal, deputy secretary-general of the Free Trade Union (FTU).
He said the workers are also demanding that the company stop forcing employees to work overtime; stop cutting monthly wages during strikes; and remove male security guards from outside the factory’s female restrooms.
“The strike started in the early morning today and stopped at 11 a.m. after provincial authorities arranged a meeting for workers and company representatives to find a solution,” said Mr. Phal.
“We will go to the meeting tomorrow, but if there is no resolution, the strike will continue unless we get an appropriate resolution,” he added.
Provincial labor department director Sim Rattanak confirmed that he called workers and company representatives for a meeting today.
“We went there today to stop the strike, and we have scheduled a meeting for the two sides at our [provincial labor department] office tomorrow for negotiation,” he said.
Mao Chhing Song, a manager at Wing Star Shoes Co. Ltd., said Monday that the company is already in compliance with the Labor Law. He accused the FTU of inciting workers to strike because the company had asked some of its workers to stay home temporarily due to a work shortage.
“The FTU took this day to protest and attack the company after we allowed workers to take a rest at home for a few days,” he said. “We will pay 50 percent of their monthly salary during their time at home because we don’t have enough work for them to do.”
But as for the male security guards watching the female rest*room, Mr. Chhing Song admitted the company doesn’t have enough female security guards to do the job.
“We posted female security before, but the female guards were not enough, so that is why we employ male security guards to watch some of the workers who are lazy and take rest in the restrooms,” he said.
In May, two workers at the Wing Star factory were killed and another 11 were injured when a shoddily built ceiling suddenly collapsed.
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