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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Unions divided over clash

Unions divided over clash

5 Sabrina garment factory

The president of the Free Trade Union has threatened to order a large strike if eight FTU members arrested on Monday during violent clashes at the ongoing Sabrina Garment factory strike are not released.

Chea Mony said yesterday that members of rival union the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), who remained working at the Kampong Speu factory during protests, were responsible for violence that resulted in injuries on all sides.

“I want to tell [the police] that if they do not release my members … we all will join together to demand their release, because they did not do anything wrong. It is unfair,” he said.

The demonstrations at the Nike supplier turned violent for the second time in two weeks when protesters entered the factory on Monday and exchanged volleys of sticks and stones with employees still at work.

Mony said protesters were entering the factory to discuss their demands with the company when they were targeted.

“The company cooperated with a group of C.CAWDU members and used stones, sticks and fire hoses to attack the protesters,” he said.

“I think the company and C.CAWDU organised this violence . . . Why did the police not arrest the members of C.CAWDU?”

Um Visal, a legal officer at C.CAWDU, denied the accusations yesterday.

“It is wrong, and we cannot accept what they said. We were not involved in the violence. I know who is right and who is wrong because I was also there,” he said.

A C.CAWDU protester, who declined give her name out of safety concerns, said she did not want to see innocent FTU members arrested. “I entered the factory to ask [workers] to join the protest with us, but a few of the C.CAWDU members used strong objects to hit us and caused the outbreak of violence,” she told the Post.

“The police should arrest the culprits, who are members of the C.CAWDU.”

The Sabrina garment factory owner filed a lawsuit yesterday with provincial police against the FTU demanding $160,000 in compensation for property damaged by protesters, local police officials said.



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