Workers from Cambodia’s garment industry have gone on strike, demanding a $50 bonus for not participating in walkouts over the past three months.
AFP reports that about 20,000 workers have joined the strike action. They are employed at around 30 factories located in two special economic zones near the Vietnamese border.
Strikes are common in Cambodia’s garment industry and the workers are demanding the $50 bonus because they and their union, the Collective Union of Movement of Workers claim two factories have paid it to their employees.
The Cambodia Daily quotes a worker who gave his name as Dy, but did not want to supply his surname for fear of retaliation from his bosses as saying, “We will protest until the factory gives us $50.
“Why did the other factories give their workers $50 for not going on strike or demonstrating?
“We did not participate, either, so our factory has to give the same thing as the other factories.”
With most of the clothes manufactured in Cambodia exported to Western countries, the garment industry is a key source of foreign currency for the impoverished nation. However, workers in the sector regularly take industrial action in support of better wages and conditions.
In response, the Cambodian authorities have been known to respond to these actions with force. For example, in January police shot and killed at least four civilians as they responded to workers who were demanding a minimum wage of $160 a month.