Garment workers turned to mass demonstrations in at least two sites on Wednesday, as a general strike over salaries entered its third day.
About 1,500 workers demonstrated at the Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh's Dangkor district, followed by another 1,000 workers at the nearby Vattanac Industrial Park. Workers marched with placards and shouted into bullhorns, demanding higher salaries and encouraging other workers to join them.
Workers are striking for increased wages to offset increased costs of living, which managers have said is impossible under current negotiations. Talks broke down last week, leading to a general strike, which started Monday.
The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, which represents managers, estimated about 20,000 workers were on strike on Wednesday, with only some of them demonstrating and others unable to work because they were blocked or harassed.
That number was supported by Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union of Workers, whose 90,000 members did not join the strike. Chea Mony estimated about 10 factories had closed due to strikes.
However, Ath Thun, president of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, which represents 70,000 workers from seven unions across 59 factories and has been at the head of the strike, said he thought about 160,000 workers across 93 factories had gone on strike Wednesday.
That number was impossible to verify Wednesday, but it would represent nearly half of all garment factory workers.
“The garment workers today joining the strikes have increased since yesterday,” Ath Thun said.
Officials from the ministries of Labor and Interior could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
Four workers were injured when they were struck by a transportation vehicle carrying garments out of a factory complex, but no arrests or other injuries were reported.
Mom Yim, president of the Cambodian National Confederation, said she was followed by unidentified men trying to take her photograph during demonstrations Wednesday.