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Labour leader summonsed to court

Labour leader summonsed to court

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Rong Chhun (C), president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, speaks to reporters during a protest by Tai Yang Enterprises workers in Phnom Penh last month. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Rong Chhun (C), president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, speaks to reporters during a protest by Tai Yang Enterprises workers in Phnom Penh last month. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post

Global brands Levi’s and Gap had continued slashing orders at the Tai Yang and Camwell factories in Kandal province, costing the company that owns them about US$6 million, its manager claimed yesterday.

Tai Yang Enterprises manager Wu Minghuor said the brands had reduced their orders from the factories by 80 per cent as a result of the strike over seniority bonuses, which began on June 25.

“We have found we have lost about $6 million in revenue and 80 per cent of orders from [Gap and Levi’s],” he said – less than a week after telling the Post the brands had cut orders by 20 per cent.

The man responsible was Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun, who had “destroyed the company” by inciting workers to protest, Minghuor said.

Chhun was yesterday summonsed to appear in Kandal Provincial Court over allegations he incited the strike at the factories, in Ang Snuol district.

Provincial prosecutor Tep Monin said Chhun must appear on September 11 to also respond to allegations that he defamed management.

“We have summonsed Rong Chhun to appear in court for questioning following a complaint from the director-general of Tai Yang Enterprises, Jack Liu, who is suing [Chhun],” a letter signed by Monin says.

The well-known union leader is no stranger to run-ins with authorities, but this is the first time he has received a summons relating to a garment factory dispute.

Chhun said he was amused, not daunted by the summons.

“I never worry about complaints like this,” he said. “This case is a joke.”

The strike at the Tai Yang factories has involved about 4,000 workers, but fewer than 40 remain off work.

Dave Welsh, country director for the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity, said Minghuor’s 80 per cent claim did not seem like a legitimate case of the brands permanently pulling orders.

“When garment owners complain about orders being pulled, often it’s a red herring,” he said, adding that brands often put temporary holds on orders depending on business cycles.

Levi’s said it could not provide a response before deadline, and Gap could not be reached yesterday.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]
Shane Worrell at [email protected]

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