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Party Leaders Seeking Worker Support

National political leaders used rallies on International Labor Day Thursday as a platform to appeal to worker support ahead of July’s general elections.

Cambodia has around 500,000 factory workers, with about 300,000 in garment factories, and union representatives say they are being hit hard by the rising costs of fuel, goods and accommodation.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha told a crowd of some 500 laborers at his headquarters that the party was seeking an $80 per month salary, a nearly $30 raise to their current wages.

The party also sought “to protect and improve the rights, freedom and working conditions of workers, in order to solve their difficulties, sufferings and necessities of worker interests,” he said.

“If the HRP wins the July national election, the workers will have full rights and freedoms, because we follow the rule of law and the principles of law to satisfy both businessmen and workers,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, speaking to workers in Sihanoukville, said he was satisfied to see no mass demonstrations in the streets of Phnom Penh, and he called on factory owners to take care of their workers, including their bonuses, health care and working conditions.

“The two sides must follow the labor law to solve their differences with compromise,” he said.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, head of his own party in exile, in a statement Thursday, called on workers “to use their rights to vote for the good party in the July national election.”

The Sam Rainsy Party, meanwhile, said in a statement it was seeking a $75 monthly salary for workers, as well as the protection of worker rights, in its bid for parliament.

The party would end the use of force against workers and establish a labor court, the party said.

“The workers must use their rights to change their lives, through the 27 July national election,” the party said.