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Workers Delay Strike for Negotiation

A union of factory workers will delay a major strike until after further negotiations scheduled for Friday, officials said.

The Free Trade Union is seeking a salary increase for workers of $5, to $55 per month, to buffer the rising cost of goods.

The union met with government and management Monday, though no compromise has been found.

"This was a positive meeting, in which the private sector agreed to provide a $4 increase to salary workers," said Social Affairs Minister Ith Samheng.

The union said it would hold off on a strike until a decision was reached Friday.

FTU representative Rong Chhun said the union was still seeking "to hold the association as well as the government to increase the salary of the workers 20,000 riel [$5] added to the current salary of the workers."

Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, declined comment until after the meeting Friday.

Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union, said an increase of only $4 per month was not acceptable. Without a full $5 per month, he said there would likely be a strike.

"Because yesterday, we met with workers from 50 factories, and those workers agreed that they would strike if the salary is not increased, and if the increase is less than $5, we will not accept it," he said.

During the month of March, about 2,000 workers had stopped working due to low salaries, he added.

About 80 percent or 90 percent of them had gone home, and the rest had gone to find other jobs or open their own small businesses, he said.