Three union officials were arrested on Tuesday night for leading a nearly two-week long work stoppage against a Kampot-based garment factory that dismissed 21 of its workers on June 23.
Yon Sambo, a deputy secretary for 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 arrested for incitement to commit an offence and would appear in court on Friday, said Moa Chan Makthurith, police chief of Kampot province.
“The company lodged a complaint after they incited the workers to protest for many days and blocked the factory,” Makthurith said. “Even though there was no violence, their activities affected the company’s production.”
More than 400 workers at South Korean-owned Cambo TDG went on strike June 24, a day after the company dismissed the workers, most of who were women on three-month contracts.
Following a complaint with district officials, the company on June 30 agreed to re-hire 19 of those fired, without providing a reason for leaving two workers – Pu Rin and Chean Pov – out of the compromise. The workers rejected the deal and have been on strike ever since.
The company could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The three men were eating at a restaurant when the police arrested them for inciting workers to protest, said Din Sam Ath, a unionist with the Cambodian Labour Union Federation, adding that tensions were elevated on Tuesday after workers had stopped a truck and car from exiting the site.
“The workers seemed to be angry, because for nearly two weeks, there was no solution, so they stopped the car,” he said. “None of the unions ordered them to do that but they arrested my union official and two others.”
Sithy Net, deputy secretary of the Cambodian Textile & Garment Workers’ Federation, said the four unions on the factory floor have now come together to try to find a solution with the employer. “The workers are still outside protesting. There are many police officials watching over their activities,” he said.
Ouk Saran, a worker at the factory, said they stopped a company car because the owners were seemingly unbothered by the strike. “We were afraid that the company took the products to Phnom Penh to another factory and that there will no jobs for old workers at this company,” she said.