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Workers at Caltex gas stations in Cambodia strike for higher pay, benefits; 17 stations close

The entrance of a Caltex gas station is locked during a strike Monday, May 12, 2014 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Workers at gas stations in Cambodia owned by the U.S. oil company Caltex have gone on strike to demand higher wages and better working conditions. A strike leader, Sar Mora, said at least 250 Cambodian employees of Caltex halted work Monday, forcing at least 17 of the company's 26 stations to suspend operating. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

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The entrance of a Caltex gas station is locked during a strike Monday, May 12, 2014 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Workers at gas stations in Cambodia owned by the U.S. oil company Caltex have gone on strike to demand higher wages and better working conditions. A strike leader, Sar Mora, said at least 250 Cambodian employees of Caltex halted work Monday, forcing at least 17 of the company's 26 stations to suspend operating. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Workers at U.S.-owned Caltex gas stations in Cambodia went on strike Monday to demand higher wages and better working conditions.

A strike leader, Sar Mora, said at least 250 Cambodian employees halted work, forcing at least 17 of the country's 26 Caltex stations to suspend operations.

Sar Mora said workers were demanding a minimum wage of $160 a month, up from the current pay scale of $100-$130. They are also demanding a one-month annual bonus, an annual party and day care facilities for children.

Chanlek Than, a spokeswoman for Chevron Corp., the owner of Caltex, said it is working with "local authorities and union representatives" to resolve the dispute.

"We are disappointed that our unionized service station colleagues have taken the drastic action to stop work instead of following legal processes to resolve the matter that would have enabled us to continue the supply of fuel products and minimize inconvenience to the public," she said in an emailed reply to a query.

Rising expectations among Cambodia's industrial and service workers have fueled labour unrest, with labourers in the country's massive textile sector staging strikes and demonstrations late last year and in January for a higher minimum wage and loosely linking themselves with the political opposition.

Caltex is considered a premium brand in Cambodia compared to local competitors, whose prices are lower.

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