Cambodian workers mark international labour day
Sat, May 01, 2010

PHNOM PENH - Thousands of Cambodian workers marked international labour day Saturday by marching through the capital to demand better work conditions and the establishment of a labour court.

The marchers, mostly textile workers carrying banners, made their way from a park to the national assembly, where they handed a petition to 10 opposition party lawmakers.

"We want the government to establish a labour court to resolve workers' conflicts with employers," said Chea Mony, head of the country's most prominent workers' group, the Cambodian Free Trade Union.

"The workers need better protection of their rights so that they're free from exploitation."

Toun Touch, 35, who works at a garment factory outside Phnom Penh, told AFP she wanted the government to raise her monthly wage from 50 dollars to 93 dollars.

The workers later marched to the news stand where Chea Vichea, who headed the country's largest labour union and was a vocal critic of Prime Minister Hun Sen's government, was gunned down in January 2004.

The daylight murder was condemned by rights groups as a brutal attempt to silence opposition-linked unions and two men jailed over the killing were later released. A retrial has not yet been scheduled.

Garment exports, the impoverished country's largest source of foreign exchange, have dropped sharply amid the global economic downturn, causing tens of thousands of workers to lose their jobs this year.

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