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Labour leaders decry bail payment and nine arrests

Union leader Ath Thorn talks to media outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after posting bail
Union leader Ath Thorn talks to media outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after posting bail. Heng Chivoan

Labour leaders decry bail payment and nine arrests

Labour union leaders denounced the government yesterday, alleging unfair treatment in the wake of nine union worker arrests last week and a hefty bail payment by a union president yesterday.

Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), yesterday paid $25,000 in bail to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

“Now we’ve paid, but we’re not happy with that and we will continue with the appeal,” Thorn said.

Thorn and another C.CAWDU member were charged with incitement last month after a security guard at SL Garment filed a complaint alleging they provoked violence that injured him. Thorn has appealed the terms of his bail, which state he may not host any public gatherings.

In a separate case, three union representatives arrested in front of Kandal province’s Quint Major Industrial garment factory now face incitement charges in provincial court following their arrest last Friday, Kandal provincial police chief Eav Chamroeun said.

“They were protesting to demand workers receive a base wage of $160 and better working conditions,” Sok Ravuth, president of the Free Union Federation of Khmer Labour said. “They are being temporarily detained in jail.”

Ravuth called the charges unjust.

Defendants – whom Ravuth identified as Div Mannorin, 27, Mouk Manj, 27, and Sok Vichra, 26 – were arrested after officials from Quint filed a complaint that they were inflaming the strike, Chamroeun said.

About 4,000 Quint workers left their posts on April 22, Ravuth said.

Workers had previously stayed at home, but recently a group of about 300 began demonstrating in front of the factory.

The arrest came out of a joint effort between the provincial court, police and authorities from the Ministry of Interior’s light criminal bureau, Chamroeun said.

A woman who identified herself as a merchandiser at Quint declined to comment yesterday because the case is still being processed.

Another six union workers were arrested last Tuesday during a strike at Wing Star Shoe factory in Kampong Speu province.

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