A $60,000 complaint against worker representatives by a local brewery partly owned by Carlsberg was largely dismissed on Friday by the Sihanoukville Provincial Court, though one of the defendants was still ordered to pay compensation to the company.
In a five-minute court hearing, Judge Keo Mony announced that “the court orders Mr Khem Mao to pay $3,000 to the beer company Cambrew, referring to the president of the local Democratic Workers Union of Angkor Beer Company. Mony, however, rejected the complaint against Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation leader Sar Mora, without elaborating on the reasons.
Cambrew, which is partially owned by brewing giant Carlsberg, had lodged a $60,000 complaint against Mora and Mao after a strike last August. About 100 workers went on strike for five days to protest the sacking of a warehouse manager.
The company produces Angkor, Carlsberg, Bayon, Klang and Black Panther beers. Cambrew could not be reached, and Carlsberg did not respond to a request for comment.
After the hearing, Mora said they would appeal the decision. “Cambrew doesn’t want to lose face,” he said. “But they also don’t want CFSWF to exist, so they pressure local leaders.”
The director of labour rights group Central, Moeun Tola, said that the ruling against Mao was part of a pattern of silencing unions, adding that “everyone understands that the court system is not independent and it’s used as a political tool”.