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Unionists ‘detained’ by authorities in Bavet

Unionists ‘detained’ by authorities in Bavet

Police in Svay Rieng province yesterday stopped and allegedly detained more than 10 striking workers and union activists who were on their way to Phnom Penh to seek intervention from national labour officials.

Workers from the Japanese-owned Nissey Factory, accompanied by six representatives of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), were stopped by police at a checkpoint in Bavet town at 5:50am yesterday, said Preap Sovann, an assistant to CUMW president Pav Sina.

“They started striking April 18; they didn’t get any solutions from … the [local] labour department, that’s why they decided to move to Phnom Penh to submit their petition to stakeholders,” Preap said. “The police … arrested and detained them until 11:35am.”

Bavet’s deputy police chief, Chea Sina, yesterday denied that police detained the group, and said they were stopped because their driver was unlicensed. He declined to comment further. Keo Kong, Bavet’s police chief, declined to comment.

But Nouth Botinnaroath, Svay Rieng coordinator for rights group Licadho, said Kong often obstructs labour union activity and strikes.

“Police target CUMW members, because they believe they always lead workers during strikes; I think this is the reason they blocked them from coming to Phnom Penh,” Botinnaroath said.

Preap said the group will attempt to deliver their petitions again today.

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