Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Strikes supporting Sokha illegal: pro-gov’t unions

Strikes supporting Sokha illegal: pro-gov’t unions

Cambodia National Rescue Party acting president Kem Sokha addresses a mass of garment workers at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park during a political rally in 2013.
Cambodia National Rescue Party acting president Kem Sokha addresses a mass of garment workers at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park during a political rally in 2013. Scott Howes

Strikes supporting Sokha illegal: pro-gov’t unions

Pro-government unions are calling on authorities to take action against any unionist caught leading protests in support of embattled opposition acting leader Kem Sohka, and they’re pointing to the new Union Law in doing so, saying such political protests are forbidden under the new statute.

The group of government-leaning unions’ public stance followed calls by independent union leaders for workers to strike if Cambodia National Rescue Party acting president Kem Sokha is arrested.

Three unions – the Cambodia Council of National Unions, the National Union Federation of Cambodia and the Cambodian Federation of Independent Trade Unions – representing some 60,000 workers, on Friday and Saturday released statements condemning any union leader who persuades workers to protest for political ends.

“We denounce any union leader who acts contrary to state law, and the competent authorities [should pursue] the most serious conviction in accordance with the laws in force,” Tep Kim Vannary, president of the Cambodia Council of National Unions, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions also asked authorities to take legal action against union leaders and employees who violate employment policies by protesting for political reasons.

The backlash followed statements by the Cambodia’s Free Trade Union and the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association urging workers to strike if Sokha is arrested. Armed police attempted to arrest the lawmaker on Thursday.

Sokha, who is embroiled in a raft of questionable legal cases pertaining to an alleged affair, was charged by the court after failing to appear in court for questioning on Thursday.

Chea Mony, president of the Cambodia’s Free Trade Union, called for workers to “use their legal right to strike” in the event that Sokha is arrested.

Moeun Tola, executive director of labour rights group Central, said the calls were indicative of a double standard for unions, adding that pro-government unions are “always involved in politics”.

“They are the ones that are close to the [Cambodia People’s Party] and support the ruling party,” he said. He added that workers have the right to protest because politics have wide-ranging effects that impact them directly.

“It’s too bad for Cambodia,” he said of the current political situation, calling for both parties to find a peaceful solution.

The Ministry of Labour on Friday also called for workers to remain calm and go to work as usual. Ministry spokesman Heng Sour couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro


  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the