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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Clash thwarts union’s march

Clash thwarts union’s march

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Garment workers from factories owned by Tai Yang Enterprise Co in Kandal province’s Ang Snuol district clash briefly with riot police while attempting to march into Phnom Penh yesterday. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Police clashed with strikers as thousands of garment workers from factories that sell to Levi’s and Gap were blocked as they marched from Kandal province towards the capital yesterday, union representatives said.

The 4,000-strong group’s march, as threatened by Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions president Rong Chhun earlier this week, was thwarted after just 90 minutes, according to May Soph-eaktra, secretary-general of the Cambodia Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU).

“The workers walked along the sidewalk, but police and Labour Ministry officials blocked them from going any further,” he said, adding that several workers had received minor injuries when the two groups clashed.

The workers, from factories owned by Tai Yang Enterprise, have been on strike since June 25 in a quest for travel, accommodation, performance and maternal bonuses.

They had planned to march to the Ministry of Labour, the offices of Hun Sen’s cabinet, the US embassy and the Eur-opean Union headquarters. Instead, the workers, whom the Kandal provincial court has twice ordered back to work, protested where police blocked them until late afternoon.

“We did not break our march, even though we had stayed in the hot sun since morning,” CCU official Uk Chhayany said.

Union representatives met with company and government officials at the Ministry of Labour during the afternoon, but three hours of negotiations failed to produce an outcome.

CATU president Yang Sophorn said discussions would continue this morning and she expected the Minister of Labour to find a resolution.

“We cannot wait, because the workers have been on strike for many days,” she said.

Sat Samuth, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, said the workers’ demands were familiar.

“We agreed to take four [out of five] points to the Labour Advisory Committee meeting on July 11, because it is the same problems workers all over the country have,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at kunthear.mom@phnompenhpost.com

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