Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Phnom Penh court calls worker over Veng Sreng strike

Phnom Penh court calls worker over Veng Sreng strike

Phnom Penh court calls worker over Veng Sreng strike

At least one worker and potentially over a dozen more from the Meng Da footwear factory have been summonsed for questioning in court over their roles in a strike on Veng Sreng Boulevard in early December over allegedly unpaid bonuses.

Some 500 workers are said to have demonstrated along the busy thoroughfare – drawing the attention of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who seemed to reference the strike in a speech five days later, criticising the workers for blocking the streets and labelling their actions “illegal”.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court called worker Bo Em in for questioning yesterday, with potential charges of incitement, destruction of property and obstructing traffic. According to Em, 15 other workers had received a summons, though inquiries to officials for confirmation went unanswered yesterday. He said many of the other workers had indicated they would not appear. The original complaint was filed by Li Cheng Te on December 13.

Cambodian Center for Human Rights Executive Director Chak Sopheap previously noted that traffic rules cannot be used to arbitrarily justify restricting the right to freedom of assembly, according to UN standards for the management of demonstrations.

“Too often in Cambodia, traffic flow is cited as a justification for prohibiting assemblies outright, which is rarely if ever acceptable under international human rights law,” Sopheap told The Post after Hun Sen’s speech calling the protest “illegal”.

Em admitted that he took part in the strike, which demanded the payment of a promised annual bonus of 5 percent of workers’ salaries. “But I did not incite or destroy the property of others. [As for] blocking the street, there were many people doing that,” he said.

Reached yesterday, a Meng Da factory representative said she would return a reporter’s call, before turning off her phone.

Ath Thorn, the president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, pointed to the controversial Trade Union Law, passed in 2016, effectively stripping workers’ rights to collective bargaining.

Under the law, he said, unions are forbidden from participating in protests, which means they cannot ensure they play out peacefully and legally.

“The authorities should help the workers, but instead they ignored them and let the company sue them,” he said, noting that under the law a union cannot provide a lawyer to defendants or help prepare court documents.

“How can they win the case? Even with the help from union, they rarely won the case.”

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At