Food worker union leader Sar Mora appeared before Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court on Friday on behalf of his federation in relation to a $60,000 lawsuit filed by beverage giant Carlsberg’s partner Cambrew following a strike last August in Sihanoukville that disrupted its production.
The Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation, which is headed by Mora, is being sued after 100 workers went on a five-day strike to protest the termination of the warehouse manager, Lim Roath, and to call for the firing of the factory’s Malaysian-Chinese manager for unfair treatment. A verdict is expected on July 21.
Cambrew is part-owned by Danish conglomerate Carlsberg and produces Angkor, Carlsberg, Bayon, Klang and Black Panther beers.
According to Mora, the company filed a civil case against the federation, citing “harassment”, rather than a case based on the Labour Law.
“I think the real cause is that Cambrew doesn’t want our independent union in their company, and from time to time they make threats to our members, activists and union leaders,” he said.
Hong Sambath, one of Mora’s lawyers, said the defence had presented evidence to the court that the case should be based on the Labour Law. Because of that, he said, he was hopeful that the court would rule in their favour.
“But in that case [related to the Labour Law] the union has no responsibility to pay damages, and they can’t afford to pay it as well,” Sambath said.
Court spokesman Yem Bunareth refused to comment on the case yesterday and Cambrew management could not be reached.
Labour advocate Moeun Tola said it was “ridiculous” that an international brand like Carlsberg would use the courts to target the trade union and impinge on their right to freedom of association.
“While it is impossible for them to pay this [damages], my bigger concern is with the courts, which are not independent, being used to undermine the freedom of association of unions,” he said