While information about the workers' minimum wage will be increased in early 2016, some landlords mentioned about increase in rental room fee, making some workers unsatisfied.
Representatives of the workers in rental room at Chompou Vorn area, Ms. Duc Sambath, 26, said that at the end of 2015 after the supply of electricity from the Electricity du Cambodge( EDC) has linked... directly to rented rooms, landlords refuse to hand on electricity bill to tenants. They also do not allow tenants to pay the electricity on the Wing Service that fee of charge is 1,000 riels; they command tenants to pay electricity bill with them that charge 2,000 riel for the service.
Moreover, Sambath said that the landlords told the tenants to pay $3 more of normal fee since wage will be increased. She continued, “the wage will be increased, but our working conditions are worse than before; we are forced to work almost double; we do not even have time to break. Before, factory assigned us to sew 500 pieces of clothes for working overtime till 6pm; but now factory assign us to sew 600 pieces of clothes for working till 4pm when the wage rose. If we cannot complete it, they will warn us two to three times. Then, if we still cannot reach the target, we will be fired”.
Another worker representative who protested in this case too, Mr. Lon Vuthy, 28, said that despite wage increasing, price of most goods on the market is also rising. He said, fish, meat, vegetables price keep rising; so if cost of rental room also increase, while rooms are still in the same condition (rooms were flooded when it rained), he cannot accept it.
Workers' minimum wages are increased from $ 128 in 2015 to $ 140 per month in 2016.
Because workers cannot accept this increase in fee, Sambath and other workers discussed and decided to request for support from Worker’s Information Centre. She said Drop in Center, Chompou Vorn, helped her to analyze the problems that occur, as well as provided ideas for dialogue with rental room owner and encouraged workers to solve the problem.
Drop in Center’s coordinator at Chompou Vorn area, Ms. Lim Sreymom said that the reason she provided counseling as well as facilities for workers because she thought that the increasing of rental room fee and workers’ income is imbalance. Sreymom continued, “We analyzed the living conditions and their rental room condition... small rooms, leaking roofs, flooding while rained, and only 4 bathrooms to be used together for more than 100 people; Is it suitable to increase the fee with these condition?”
After getting support from Worker’s Information Center, and continue to organize workers, worker representative had collected 41 thumbprints. On January 10, 2016, Workers' representatives held talks with the landlord to discuss some issues in the rental room. She said, workers have requested 4 points to landlord which are;first, landlord needs to hand on electricity bill from EDC to tenants, and they can pay anywhere they want. Second, they suggested landlords open the doors of all four bathrooms which always closed two rooms during the day and to stop charging fee from residents and their relatives when they visit. Third, tenants proposed to repair the leaking roof and cover sewer cement; finally, they proposed arranging tiles to rooms that do not exist. As a result, she said, the landlord agreed for the first and second point, and also promised not to increase the feeas long as the conditions are not fixed.
Sambath and Vuthy suggested all workers, as well as other tenants to build solidarity and discuss the problems that occur. They also recommend to all workers not to get scared of threaten from landlord, and they need to join together to find a solution, because all the problems always have solutions.
With coordination of Worker's Information Center, the rental room campaigns are not only successful in Chumpoo Wan area, it is also successful in other areas such as Tiek Thla and Toul Sangke.