This month union leaders at the Theng Sreng Import Export Co. Ltd, a supplier of building materials (including window and door frames and roofing) to one of Cambodia’s largest house-building firms, were terminated from their employment after forming a union and holding elections.
BWI-affiliate the Building and Woodworkers Trade Union Confederation (BWTUC) began organising workers on the company’s three sites in May, recruiting 150 of the 500 total workers. On 11 July, the day after an election was held, the newly elected union leaders – Mr Leang Sophea (President), Mr. Mi Buntha (Vice President) and Mr Khim Sreng (Secretary) – were terminated from their employment, and another two workers reported intimidation.
The following day the workers went on strike, demanding reinstatement of the union leaders, union recognition, the provision of annual leave and other leave as required by Cambodian labour law, insurance and national social security fund coverage, and an end to Sunday work. At that time 60 workers were locked in by security guards and prevented from travelling to join the strike. Nonetheless negotiations ensued with the company for three hours, and while some progress was made BWTUC were later forced to submit a letter requesting further negotiations.
Since that time ongoing intimidation has caused Vice President Buntha to resign from his role. Further, BWTUC officials have received unidentified threats, demanding they end their association with the case. While the company has now agreed to provide the national social security fund contributions and end Sunday work, the workers’ other demands remain.
Workers plan to go on strike on 6 August if these demands have not been not met.