Rubbish Strikes

We’ve been seeing a bit more of the city lately.

Specifically, we are seeing the contents of locals’ rubbish bins, piled waist-high, uncollected on the street.

Rubbish workers are on 2

Drivers and trash collectors from the company CINTRI, Phnom Penh’s monopoly rubbish-collection contractor, are demanding pay rises.

Trash collectors receive US$105 to $120 per month for up to 10-hour days. They are now demanding $150. This handsome figure, of $5 per day, would be nearly twice Cambodia’s GDP per capita ($2.80ish/day), but still below the Government’s assessment of basic living costs- calculated at $177. Rubbish truck drivers seek $250, plus the privilege of siphoning and selling petrol from company trucks after hours, which was previously allowed.

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The workers’ tactics have not gone unnoticed. After four days of the strike, anyone with a sense of smell is painfully aware of the role that rubbish collectors play. A City Hall official accused them of using waste “as a tool to kidnap the people of our city”. The tool is an effective one: while negotiations persist, trash rots in the sun.

photo (3) - Version 3





Their strategy has paid off. Today the workers and company reached an agreement. According to reports, trash collectors’ wages will rise to $125-140 per month and drivers’ wages to $180… but they’re still not allowed to siphon petrol.

You win some you lose some.