July 25, 2011 – The beer promotion workers are on strike. Standing poised at 8 am outside of Cambrew’s (producers of Angkor beer) head office in Phnom Penh, the women who sell beer at the beer gardens traded in their pitchers for posters and are demanding the overtime wages that they have been denied.
A team from Strey Khmer was able to speak with some of the women participating in the strike. On top of being physically, sexually and mentally harassed by over indulgent customers, these women work long hours, including holidays and weekends, earning a measly $50 USD per month. This amount is not sufficient to cover the basic necessities of life for the women and their families.
In July 2011, an Arbitration Council ruled that Angkor had to pay the women overtime wages for working on Sundays. This would mean an extra $2 USD per Sunday, a total of $4 USD a day. Angkor discarded this decision and threatened to terminate the employment of the women who participated in the strike.
Assembled at the gates of Cambrew, only pushed aside by aggressive Angkor trucks that break through their human barrier, the women shout that they will not leave until the boss comes out and agrees to pay the overtime they deserve.
While the women proudly display their posters and conduct interviews with the media, the Cambrew guards slowly roll a solid metal barrier between the protestors and the face of the building. Angkor has tried to shut out the voices of resistance. Instead, the company soon finds that they have blocked themselves in. The women have taken to sitting at the barrier, encouraging one another through songs. They deserve a fair wage and fair opportunity for a decent, dignified life.