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Striking Workers Refuse Government Offer in Wage Dispute

Cambodian garment workers, right, are blocked by barbed wire set up by police near the Council of Ministers building during a rally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013. The workers are demanding a raise in their monthly salary from US $160 to $80. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Union leaders and striking workers on Wednesday said they would not agree to a minimum wage of $100 per month and would continue demonstrations until a higher wage is set.

Thousands of factory workers have been demonstrating since Sunday, calling for a raise in the minimum wage of up to $160 per month, as the cost of living in Cambodia continues to rise.

Government officials say they are willing to raise the minimum wage from $80 to $100 per month, but union leaders say that is not enough to keep up with inflation.

“The trade unions held a meeting already and found that this is still too small an amount for wages,” Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said workers would not be able to get by with only $100 per month.

Many workers said they are not happy with their current salaries, which they see in contrast to the wealthy.

“Their dogs eat beef,” said Chheang Thida, a worker. “And we can’t even afford it to eat.”