Early news noted that immediately prior to the threatened strike, a local cartel of factory owners had caved to demands and even upped the ante by going them one better: though the union’s demand was a raise of $5 per month, the bosses offered $6.
I have no idea what would have made them respond so desperately, but I’m eagerly soliciting opinions. This potentially reveals a greater cleavage in the manufacturing interests than I had previously suspected, and I can’t put my finger on where that cleavage is. One possibility is discussed below.
But first, here’s the IHT article.
The FTUWKC page hasn’t been updated with news, which could be the result of the workers taking a well-earned break from organizing in celebration, or because the owners are being recalcitrant to put their last-minute offer into contracts.
This is the only option I can really envision as a possibility right now: that the factory owners were so spooked by the very real threat of a nationwide, multi-industry strike, that they added a dollar to the offer in order to prevent it. This would be extraordinary: in negotations, it is almost always sufficient to meet demands in order to prevent a strike.
The problem here was that the offer was last minute; perhaps the bosses figured out too late how seriously this strike was organized, and over-reacted in their tardiness. I was in Phnom Penh in January, and in just two casual visits and discussions with union officials, it was apparent that this was an extremely well-planned action.
Because of the lateness of the offer, not all workers returned to work immediately. Although the union managed to get in touch with local and factory organizers in the vast majority of instances, a number of workers were out, especially in the morning.
Are the factory owners now attempting to use that as leverage to reduce the offer?