The Cambodian Center for Labor Rights organized a meeting Sunday, bringing together representatives of five construction worker unions and three garment factory unions in one restaurant.
The meeting, on “worker decisions on politics,” gathered the political expectations of more than 4,000 workers, many of whom say they would vote for the opposition if it were able to meet their needs.
The unions sent official letters last week to the four main political parties—the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, coalition partner Funcinpec, opposition Sam Rainsy Party and competing Human Rights Party.
The letter was a political questionnaire, asking how each party would approach worker issues, such us minimum monthly salaries for construction workers, who currently are paid day wages.
The unions informed party officials they would vote for the party that best met their needs.
So far, only the Sam Rainsy party has responded, said Rath Rothmony, president of the Cambodian Center for Labor Rights.
“We held a discussion yesterday, in which 54 of 56 leaders, representing more than 4,000 workers, voted for the Sam Rainsy Party in a secret ballot,” he said. “This is our survey in accordance with democracy.”
But with more than 400,000 workers in Cambodia, 4,000 is a small number, said Nguon Nhel, CPP first vice president of the National Assembly.
“Usually, the political rival is looking for many kinds of ways to degrade the reputation of the ruling party, or any political party, to bring its popularity up,” he said.
Norodom Ranariddh Party spokesman Muth Chantha said the announcement of Sam Rainsy support affected the freedom and neutrality of unions.