Three union leaders arrested on Tuesday, following a two-week long strike at the Cambo TDG garment factory in Kampot, were released yesterday after the company withdrew its complaint.
The three – Yon Sambo, a deputy secretary for the Cambodian Labor Union Federation; Meas Tom, a unionist for the Free Union Federation of Khmer Labor; and Sok Den of the Cambodian Worker Union Federation – were sent to court yesterday, but the charges were dropped after close to half of the 400 workers returned to work.
“Because the workers went back to work, the company decided to withdraw its complaint and [the three unionists] are now in Phnom Penh,” said Mai Lai, a representative of the workers.
Four-hundred workers went on strike on June 24 after 21 workers, most of whom were on short-term work contracts, were sacked.
The company agreed to re-hire 19 of them on June 30, but the workers did not agree to compromise. While 200 workers decided to resign yesterday, most returned to work on the promise that the factory would drop the charges, Lai added.
Din Sam Ath, a unionist with the Cambodian Labour Union Federation, said their release was justified because “they did not do anything wrong and were just helping workers”.
Moa Chan Makthurith, police chief of Kampot province, confirmed the release of the three unionists, and defended the police’s decision to arrest them, saying a complaint had been filed on Tuesday after workers got agitated and blocked a car and truck from leaving the premises.