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Union still mulling new strike

A LOCAL garment workers union that was at the centre of strikes in September says it has made no final decision about whether to stop work in re-sponse to the suspensions of union representatives.

Ek Sopheakdey, secretary general of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said last week that the union would stage a new round of strikes if the cases of representatives suspended in connection with the September work stoppage were not resolved.

Yesterday, however, CCAWDU president Ath Thorn said that the plan was still under consideration.

“I haven’t discussed this plan yet, but I will do so this week or next week to see what we can do if the union representatives and the workers cannot return to work,” Ath Thorn said. “We are waiting for information from the government officials who went to the factories to help solve the problems.”

Officials at the Ministry of Social Affairs could not be reached for comment.

Ath Thorn said 94 union representatives remained suspended in connection with September’s strikes, and that 683 workers were fired after they protested these suspensions and then failed to heed court orders that they return to work.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia says, however, that just 67 union representatives are suspended and 358 have been dismissed.

The factories involved will drop their cases against workers if they receive apologies from the unionists, GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo said, a request that has thus far been rebuffed.

Phin Sophea, a union representative currently suspended from the River Rich garment factory in Kandal province, said he would be “happy to protest again” in the event of a new round of strikes.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE

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