Lor Sopheak (centre), national secretary-general of the Khmer Workers Power Co-operation Union and an employee at the Tai Yean factory, leaves the Ang Snuol district hall in Kandal province yesterday. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
More than 20 union members and workers at a factory in Kandal province rallied around a union leader yesterday, fearing that he would be arrested after police called him in for questioning.
Lor Sopheak, national secretary-general of the Khmer Workers Power Co-operation Union [KWPCU] and an employee at the Tai Yean factory, said he had been ordered to appear at the Ang Snuol district hall yesterday over his alleged involvement in blocking National Road 4 on Saturday.
Lor Sopheak said police had ordered him to thumbprint an official statement promising not to order workers to block the road again – despite his insistence that he had not led the demonstration.
“They accused me of leading workers on strike and blocking [the road], but I did not do as they accused me.
“The district police chief sent me a letter calling me in for questioning.
“I told them the workers did it themselves because they want better conditions.”
Employees began protesting last week after claiming they had discovered evidence that the factory had secretly changed its name from Tai Yean to Tai Nan in 2010 – a move they fear could rob them of accrued seniority benefits.
Police questioned Lor Sopheak for two hours yesterday while his supporters, who had been barred from entering the district hall, were forced to wait outside.
KWPCU national president Chey Sovan said yesterday the group had accompanied Lor Sopheak because they feared he would be locked up.
“We did not do anything against them. We were there because were afraid the authorities would arrest or detain him,” Chey Sovan said.
He said the workers would return to work today as they awaited an Arbitration Council ruling on their complaint about the name change.
“The strike will begin again if the workers don’t accept the Arbitration Council ruling.
“They need their benefits from work done under the old factory name.”
Factory officials and Ang Snuol police chief Mean Samnang, who ordered Lor Sopheak in for questioning, could not be reached for comment.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]