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Union leader in court over strike

Union leader in court over strike

The Appeal Court on Thursday heard the case of a trade union leader who has been sued by one of the Kingdom’s largest brewers for leading a strike in Preah Sihanouk province in 2016.

Democratic Workers Union president Khem Mao was ordered by the lower court in August 2016 to pay $3,000 in compensation to Cambrew, the parent company of Angkor Beer, for his alleged involvement in a walkout by around 100 workers.

Mao appealed the decision, claiming the strike on August 20 that year, which centred around the dismissal of another union leader at the company, started at 6am, an hour before he arrived at work.

After the firm rejected their demand to reinstate Lim Roth, the workers approached Mao, who then met with representatives of the company and the provincial department of labour.

With no solution in sight, the case was forwarded to the Arbitration Council, which ruled in the workers’ favour. The company, however, refused to reinstate Mao, prompting the workers to resume their strike until August 23.

At his trial on Thursday, Mao maintained his innocence, saying: “I did not lead the walkout. The workers went on strike because the company sacked their leader Lim Roth. As for the $3,000 compensation, I can’t afford to pay because I’m just a worker.”

In its lawsuit filed at the Preah Sihanouk provincial court, the company said the strike had disrupted its production workflow and demanded $60,000 in compensation.

Angkor Beer’s defence lawyer Cheav Tola said that although the walkout began before Mao arrived at work, he was seen holding loudspeakers later during the strike.

The court will hand down its verdict on December 27.

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