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Thousands of workers in Cambodia march for pay rise on Int'l Labor Day


14:36, May 01, 2013

PHNOM PENH, May 1 (Xinhua) -- About 5,000 Cambodian workers took to the street on Wednesday to mark the International Labor Day, calling for pay rise, better labor conditions and decrease in petrol prices, a union representative said.

Marchers, mostly garment workers, held banners and walked from the Freedom Park near the Wat Phnom historical site to the National Assembly in order to submit a petition to the National Assembly.

"Our petition is to ask the government to set the minimum wage of 150 U.S. dollars a month for a garment worker and to take measures to ensure working safety for workers," Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, who headed the protest, told reporters.

Currently, the minimum wage for a garment worker is 80 U.S. dollars.

"We also urge the government to cap the gasoline price to less than 1 U.S. dollar a liter from the current price of 1.37 U.S. dollars," he said.

The garment industry is Cambodia's largest income earner, representing more than 80 percent of the country's exports.

The latest report of the Ministry of Commerce showed that currently, the country has about 500 garment and footwear factories employing some 510,600 workers. Last year, the country exported garment products in equivalent to 4.6 billion U.S. dollars, up 8 percent year-on-year.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government allowed workers to express their rights through protests in order to demand better labor conditions.

"This is their freedom," the premier said during the celebration of the International Labor Day with about 1,300 workers of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port on Wednesday.

"Some workers stage protests on the day to demand better wage and working conditions, and the others enjoy their holiday by visiting their families or organizing parties," he said.

The premier recalled that the worker's monthly salary was just more than 50 U.S. dollars in 2008 and increased to 61 U.S. dollars in 2010 and further rose to 80 U.S. dollars from May 2013.

He said the government would be happy if the employers could increase more wage for workers.

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