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Minister: Prevent colour revolution

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Laid-off workers block a road to demand compensation in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district earlier this month. Facebook

Minister: Prevent colour revolution

Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng has reminded the ministry’s strike and demonstration resolution committee to prevent protesters from using their grievance as a pretext to stage a colour revolution.

Speaking at a meeting on the implementation of the 2020-2024 strike and demonstration resolution plans at the Kandal Provincial Hall on Wednesday, Sam Heng, who also chairs the committee, said politically motivated protests cannot be tolerated as it could ruin peace, social order and stability.

“The committee for strike and demonstration resolution plays a crucial role in maintaining and safeguarding peace, social order and strengthening the rule of law.

“It has successfully resolved and prevented politically motivated demonstrations by extremists who were supported and incited by outsiders.

“[Extremists] had attempted to disregard general election results in a bid to topple the legitimate government, which has worked hard to protect workers’ interests,” he said.

Sam Heng commended the committee for its efforts in negotiating compromises to end strikes and demonstrations across the country.

The committee, he said, played an important role in maintaining security and public order in factory and enterprise-concentrated areas and other industrial parks in line with the government’s directive.

Sam Heng said the government has fully respected citizens’ freedoms of expression and assembly, and their rights to hold strikes and demonstrations legally.

Cambodia, he said, has also given space to political parties, civil society organisations and trade unions to carry out their activities in accordance with the law.

However, the minister said some groups have used their protests as an excuse to discredit the government. He advised the committee to monitor and thwart the plans of “extremists” who carry out their activities under the cover of political parties and NGOs.

“Ill-intended people attempted to stage a colour revolution through demonstrations, strikes and riots,” he said.

Sam Heng urged the committee to strengthen its discipline and capacity and to increase cooperation with trade unions, employers’ associations and NGOs. It needs to intervene in a timely manner when factories and enterprises shut down and their owners run away, he said.

Neither labour ministry spokesman Heng Sour nor the committee’s deputy secretary-general Tes Rokhaphal could be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Center for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights (Central) executive director Moeun Tola said over the last two months, strikes have noticeably increased as factories and enterprises shut down amid the Covid-19 pandemic without providing wages or compensation to employees.

He called on relevant authorities to get to the root of the problem.

“Overall, we have seen the rise in strikes which are attributed to factory closures and employers’ failure to pay wages for workers,” he said.

Tola cautioned that some employers may secretly shut their factories during the August 17-21 holidays. Protests, he said, could ensue.

“If they come back and see their workplaces closed, they might protest. To prevent strikes and demonstrations, I think the ministry has to look into this,” he said.

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