CAMBODIA - Ministry of Labour wants to ban protest song

The festival "Pchum Ben" in Cambodia starts at the end of September. The "Feast of the Ancestors" lasts 15 days and honors the deceased relatives. Pchum Ben is not only a religious festival, but an important national holiday, which allows families from all over the country to reunite to spend time together after a long break.

However, many workers are unable to travel to their homelands at festivals because they do not receive their wages in time to pay for the trip home. This situation, especially that of many textile workers, describes a song that was created about two years ago.

The song "Pchum Ben Noek Srok" describes textile workers who do not get their wages and so can not go home to attend the festival. Two years ago, more than 1,000 workers demonstrated in front of a Chinese factory in Prey Veng County because the manager refused to pay the wages. They were offered 30% instead of the promised 50%. The workers were not satisfied with that. Two union representatives holding the protests were arrested immediately. More than 3,000 workers then blocked the national road and the district office. Then they were released. Even two years after these protests, nothing has changed for many. Exactly that situation is described by the song.

The Ministry of Labor wants it banned, because it no longer describes the current state of the textile workers. Because "the current government policy cares about the workers," said the Ministry of Labor to justify the ban. The songwriter is outraged by the plan, because situation continues to meet many workers who can not travel home because of unpaid wages, and this is exactly what he addresses. Even if the government issues buses for free, many people are denied their participation in Pchum Ben.

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