Workers at Koh Pich demand better wages

About 1,000 employees of the Overseas Cambodian Investment Cooperation protested yesterday against working conditions at development projects on Diamond Island.

Noul Yeun, an employee of OCIC, said a group consisting of gardeners, cleaners and construction workers stopped working Sunday to protest for improved conditions.

“We have been working here for more than two years and can no longer bear the restrictions on our lives. We work overtime until 11pm but only receive a daily wage of 10,000 riel (US$2.50). But if an employee is five minutes late he cannot work a full day and loses his wages.”

Fellow protester Leum Hout, 45, said that the company provides poor living conditions and that the construction site once had a small food market, yet the workers now have to pay for transport to shop for food.

On top of this, he claims security guards attempt to steal food from workers at gunpoint and that it is impossible to live on a daily wage of 10,000 riels.

Oen Kim Hun, a conflict resolution official from the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union Federation of Cambodia, attended the protest and said the workers made 20 complaints related to both work and living conditions and have asked BWTUC to mediate.

“According to labour law, employees can only work two additional hours for twice the regular rate. The company’s security guards must not carry guns and threaten people. Workers reported to us on January 13 that 20 security guards confronted them, threatening to take their food,” he said.

“The union will negotiate with the company to find a resolution.”

He added that the company provides employees with unhygienic drinking water from the river and charges a weekly fee of 500 riels for medicine.

Touch Samnang, Koh Pich project manager for OCIC, said yesterday that “the company does not force employees to work extra hours”.

“Some workers want to get extra money, so they work more,” he said.

“We believe several workers have persuaded a group to protest for higher wages. The accusations against the security guards are not true and the company has rules that people cannot stockpile food in the workers’ houses.”

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