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Union leader rejects ruling

The president of Cambodia's largest worker union is appealing conditions of his bail, which comes with a $25,000 bond and forbids him from holding public gatherings.

Attorneys for Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, Thorn said.
“We plan to complain against the judge and also the prosecutor, because . . . we are not related with this [complaint], and also they are charging too much money.”

The complaint that led to the bail and the restrictions was filed against Thorn in Phnom Penh Municipal Court by Sath Sophai, a security guard at the SL Garment factory who alleges Thorn and co-defen- dant Pav Phanna incited several violent incidents during a C.CAWDU-led strike between August and December.

Thorn and supporters began raising money for bail at the beginning of the week, Thorn said. Initially thought to be due earlier, the money can now be paid in early May, because Thorn did not receive notification of the bail requirement immediately after it was issued.

Due to the restrictions, Thorn will not take a leadership role in a planned International Labour Day gathering in the capital on May 1, he said.

Thorn’s comments came after he spoke at the beginning of a two-day workshop of union, government and in- dustry members yesterday.

By the conference’s end today, Tun Sophorn, national project director of the International Labour Organization, hopes the group will agree on a new system of setting a minimum wage. They could then propose it to the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee.

While the country is in need of a mechanism for setting minimum wages, there is also an immediate need for higher wages, said Dave Welsh, country manager for labour rights group Solidarity Center.
“Have as many workshops as you wish . . . but raise wages now,” Welsh said.

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