Angkor BeerGirls Strike


About 60 Angkor beer promoters plan to strike today outside the company’s head office on Norodom Boulevard to draw attention to what they say are violations of labour law, as well as discrimination against them.

Cham Rong, a representative of the women, promised the strike, planned to begin at 8am, would be loud and colourful. The women will raise banners and beat drums to draw attention from passers-by, including tourists, she said.

The decision to strike was made after the company rejected a decision by the Arbitration Council to double the wages they receive on Sundays to US$4, she said.

Cham Rong also said that the company threatened to fire the women if they tried to join a union.

Neub Sros, 36, said she had worked as a beer promoter for the company for more than 10 years but was paid only $50 a month.

“I can’t survive on this because my expenses are even higher, so I work overtime on Sunday night but that only adds up to [an extra] $8 a month,” she said.

She had requested proper overtime pay for women who sell the beer brand in restaurants and nightspots, as well as an increase for Sundays, she added.

She also accused their direct manager, Soy Yary, of using insulting language when speaking to the women and said they had asked her to stop.

Soy Yary had likened the beer sellers to street prostitutes, Neub Sros said.

Soy Yary, manager of Angkor’s beer promotion women, said reporters should visit the strike for themselves to determine whether those present actually worked for the company or came from outside.

She admitted that she sometimes used “improper words” when talking to her staff, adding she had worked as a sex health educator and sometimes sexual words spilled out, she explained.

Instead of gathering to strike they should be negotiating with the company to keep their jobs and privileges, she said.

Sin Chanthoeun of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation said she had been informed that the brewer was recruiting an additional 40 to 50 beer-sellers, which would make it easier for them to replace the workers.

General Information
‘Beer promotion women’ (hereafter, BPWs) are a relatively new phenomena in Cambodia. Their job is to promote a specific brand of beer or other alcohol, and they work in beer gardens, restaurants, private parties and other entertainment establishments. Marketing research by beer companies has suggested that BPWs help increase beer sales, especially when the girls sit and socialize with customers.

Over 4,000 women and girls are engaged in the promotion of beer and alcohol in beer gardens, karaoke bars and local restaurants in Cambodia. This business attracts vulnerable young women and girls.

Many international beers are marketed in Cambodia with beer promotion women, and similar techniques are now being introduced into the rapidly expanding China market (see Bouma, 2003; van Luyn, 2004; van Pinxteren, 2004, at The Interbrew family (recently renamed ‘InBrew’) is currently expanding and has marketed during the past two years a number of their international brands including: ‘Three Horses’ from the Netherlands, Stella Artois, Cass, Beck’s, Labbatt’s, Hoegaarden, as well as Bass Pale Ale from the UK. Many other brands are marketed by the beer promotion women as well.

The Beer Brands
The majority of all of the brands sold by beer promotion women in Cambodia are imported from regional breweries, and distributed via locally managed distribution companies. There are just two breweries in Cambodia – Cambodia Breweries Ltd (CBL) and CamBrew, the national brewery. CBL has the license to brew and distribute Tiger, ABC Stout, Anchor, Anchor Strong and Crown beers. CamBrew produces and distributes its own-label beers of Angkor, Bayon, and Black Panther.

All beer which is brewed outside of Cambodia then legally imported, is distributed by one of seven companies: Anco Sutl., Asia Sunrise, Attwood Import and Export Co. Ltd., Duong Chhiv Import Export and Transport Co., Hak Soon Import Export Co. Ltd., Hosten Distributor and Soon Soon Import and Export Co. Ltd.