Spokesman calls Deum Ampil and Kampuchea Thmey reports a 'trick' to undermine the unity and message of factory workers.
A representative for several thousand workers from the Sky High garment factory in the capital's Dangkor district said Sunday that demonstrators protesting earlier this month against low wages and poor working conditions did not target the head of a Cambodian trade union, as local press reports last week suggested.
Chan Dary, 29, a representative for workers at Sky High, said Sunday that reports published in two Khmer-language dailies - Deum Ampil and Kampuchea Thmey - incorrectly stated that workers had filed complaints against Yun Rithy, head of the Khmer Youth Federation of Trade Unions, for inciting them to protest.
"We have never complained about Yun Rithy. This is a fairy tale spread by the owner of the [Sky High] factory to defame us and to deter influential people, NGOs or other organisations from assisting us," Chan Dary said.
Workers are protesting against the factory, not Yun Rithy, Chan Dary said.
"We want the factory owner to agree to our conditions, which we feel are not difficult to implement. But they don't want to give in, so they they try instead to make us suffer," he said.
Sky High workers began their protest on August 24, with several hundred workers assembling in front of the factory. Last week, the number of protesters reached into the thousands.
Yun Rithy said Sunday he had no direct involvement with the protests and rejected claims that he influenced anyone to demonstrate.
"I don't know anything about it, and I have incited no one to do anything," he said. "I have only tried to help workers because we are an organisation that supports labour rights and benefits for workers, and in this I have done nothing wrong."
"These problems I cannot solve on my own. I can just investigate and urge [factory owners] to respect the labour law," he said.
Getting the story wrong
Keo Sarum, 27, a worker at Sky High, said local newspaper reports got the story wrong about the protests.
"We did not collect thumbprints for a complaint against Yun Rithy, as the newspapers said. This was a trick by the factory owner in an attempt to divide the workers," Keo Sarum said.
"I would like to ask the publishers of [Deum Ampil and Kampuchea Thmey] where they got their information. Before they write something about us, they should come talk to us," She said.