Blinded, bloodied and barely conscious, two unionists who were nearly beaten to death after passing out pro-union literature in front of a Phnom Penh garment factory remained in their hospital beds yesterday, awaiting a possible transferral to Vietnam.
“I am very worried about them because they seemed to have lost memory and one of them may lose an eye,” Sam Soeun, president of the Union Federation for Labour Rights, said, standing beside his near-comatose brother at Calmette Hospital.
The vicious attack in front of Dayup Global Co Ltd on Monday left Sam Visor, Soen’s 25-year-old brother, and Loy Socheat, a 37-year-old Khmer Workers Union Federation officer, unconscious and vomiting blood.
Both men may have to be sent to Vietnam to receive the advanced medical care necessary to treat their injuries, a doctor said.
According to Soeun, the attack on 10 unionists representing four different unions came without provocation. The men stood outside Dayup’s factory gates, passing out pamphlets detailing workers’ rights in Cambodia, Lay said, and were accosted by about 40 men from the factory bearing pipes and sticks.
“I saw them beat my brother unconscious,” Soeun recalled. “They attempted to chop at his neck with a cleaver, but the villagers and food sellers at the scene shouted for them to stop.”
Soeun and the other workers suffered less-severe injuries, he said. He has since filed complaints with the International Labour Organization, Solidarity Center/ACLIS and the municipal court as well as government ministries.
Yang Rithy, Dayup’s administrative manager, maintain the unionists provoked a fight and damaged property, asserting that he possessed video evidence proving his claim but which he was unable to produce by press time.
Rithy also denied a report from a 26-year-old worker who asked not to be identified that the incident sparked a strike of about half of its more than 1,000-member workforce, who demand that Dayup fire Rithy.
“There are about 20 workers demanding that Dayup fires me, while hundreds of other workers don’t,” he said.
The Arbitration Council released a letter yesterday ordering the workers striking to return to work within 48 hours.