A union leader charged with violence and destroying property during garment protests that ended with security forces shooting at least five people dead on January 3 has vowed to ignore a court order not to engage in union activity.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, appeared in Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday over the incident at Veng Sreng Boulevard. Sina had said that his union members would strike and hold protests if he was arrested.
“Although I was prohibited by court from meeting with workers, organising or leading any demonstration, I will not stop,” Sina told journalists outside the court.
He said he would participate in a nationwide union campaign for a $177 per month minimum wage to begin on Wednesday, which has been declared a global day of action to demand a living wage for all garment workers.
Investigative judge Chea Sokheang said that Sina had been charged with intentional violence in aggravating circumstances, insulting authorities, intentional damage and threats to damage and make an obstacle to traffic in front of Canadia Industrial Park.
Another five union leaders have also been charged and summonsed over the protests.
Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center, said the timing of the charges was “extremely suspicious”, coming during a crucial period in wage negotiations.
“The allegations . . . have nothing to do with incitement and [Sina] wasn’t physically there at the time,” he said.
“It’s purely political and timed to intimidate.”
Additional reporting Will Jackson.