Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Stay away from factory, court tells unionists

Stay away from factory, court tells unionists

Stay away from factory, court tells unionists

Eight members of Cambodia’s largest independent union were released on bail yesterday after being tried at Takeo Provincial Court over their alleged involvement in a factory protest late last week, officials said.

Defence lawyer Kim Socheat said the members of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), who were arrested on Friday evening as they left a strike at the JSD Textile factory, had been released but were “under the control of the court”.

They each face four charges, which include incitement, though it is not clear when they will return to court for a further hearing.

Investigating judge Kao Sakorn put conditions on the unionists, including a ban on joining any strike or gathering in Takeo. The accused were also ordered to report to the court on the first day of every month and to cease their involvement with JSD.

“[If] the accused intend to escape, the investigating judge will arrest and detain them,” a court order says.

Speaking before the unionists’ release, deputy prosecutor Tin Sochetra said he had enough evidence for them to be convicted.

“We investigated before we arrested them. We have enough evidence such as the photos and video of them damaging factory property … [and] throwing a bottle of gasoline and stones into the factory,” he said. “They did not only destroy the factory property but they also threatened the workers and threw stones at the workers who carried on working.”

C.CAWDU leader Ath Thorn said that his union would continue to act on behalf of the workers.

“The strike is over, but we will continue to talk to buyers,” he said.

The arrests are the latest involving union members in recent months.

About 1,300 workers at JSD had protested since the end of last month, demanding better working conditions and to be allowed to create their own union.

According to JSD employee Khout Visith, the protest began after fellow worker Chaev Chanthol was fired for attempting to form a union.

“The workers have a right to create a union to protect them in their factory, so why was he fired?” he said.

“The workers volunteered to hold a strike by themselves and we suggested those [unionists] help us. They did not incite or force the workers to strike.”

Representatives from JSD could not be reached.

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, could not be reached for comment yesterday, but a post on the group’s Facebook page spoke out in support of the unionists’ arrest.

“We are thankful that the authorities did step in to detain the people responsible pending further investigations to uncover the mastermind behind these actions,” it says.

The verdict came on the eve of talks scheduled for today between global unions and multinational clothing brands over violations of workers’ rights.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia to waive quarantine requirements Nov 15, no PCR test required

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has decided to lift all quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers and visitors – both Cambodians and foreign nationals – effective from November 15 onward. In a special message addressed to officials and relevant authorities on November 14, Hun Sen said this policy will enable

  • PM: No more quarantine for vaccinated travellers

    Cambodia is lifting all quarantine requirements for vaccinated inbound travellers entering Cambodia by air, waterway or land border checkpoints effective from November 15. Travellers will be required to take a rapid antigen test on arrival rather than waiting for the results of the lengthier polymerase chain

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration