>ILO regrets illegal garment strikes

>Striking textile workers.

By Craig Guthrie
The Mekong Times

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has said, while it is pleased employers in Cambodia’s garment factories are mostly paying workers their minimum wage, it is dismayed with the nation’s number of illegal strikes.
In the annual report for its Better Factories Cambodia project, the ILO found that 97 percent of employers in the factories it monitored successfully paid full-time workers their minimum wage, though this level of compliance dropped to only 70 percent for casual workers.
In April the monthly salary for garment factory workers was temporarily raised by US$6 to US$56 per month to tackle skyrocketing inflation’s effects on living costs such as buying rice, vegetables, fuel and paying rent.
“We note with pleasure the continued high levels of compliance, and in particular with wage payments for regular workers, even if there still are some improvements to be made regarding payment of wages for casual workers,” said the ILO in an accompanying statement.
However, the statement adds that the organization “[notes] with regret that for nearly all strikes recorded, workers failed to comply with one or more legal requirements…”
Of the 200 factories the ILO monitored for the report, 14 percent had strikes in the last year, with 91 percent failing to the meet legal requirements for striking – the group also found evidence of collusion between employers and union representatives.
“Better Factories Cambodia is aware of allegations of corruption in Cambodian garment factories between some managers and union representatives. This is very difficult to independently verify. Corruption adversely affects the exercise of freedom of association,” said the report.
Cambodia had 326 factories employing 354,570 workers – 92.2 percent of whom were female – as of April 2008, according to the report.

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