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Union woman released

Union woman released

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Union representative Pheng Chou, 38, waves from a United Nations vehicle after she was released from police custody yesterday in Phnom Penh.

A union representative arrested during a violent protest over severance pay in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district on Sunday was released without charge yesterday.

Pheng Chou was one of the leaders of a 1,000 person-strong demonstration, which saw at least eight people injured when former June Textile employees clashed with police. She said yesterday that she was released after police failed to force her to confess to beating them.

“I didn’t agree to thumbprint [a confession] because I am a worker. I did not do what they accused me of, how could I [beat them] when I did not have a gun or an electric baton,” she said. Police, she said, declined her offer to thumbprint the confession if they agreed to admit to beating workers during the protest, which blocked Russian Boulevard. Free Trade Union President Chea Mony had helped secure her release, she added.

The protest was the latest flare up of an ongoing industrial dispute that has raged since 4,000 workers were laid-off after a June Textile’s factory burnt down in late March.  June Textile has offered sacked workers $US20 severance pay per year of service but protestors have called for $US150 for each year worked.

Mouen Tola, head of the labour programme at Cambodian Legal Education Center said yesterday that  another protestor, Meas Narin, was taken by police for questioning last night but released shortly afterward. Pol Phithey, deputy municipal police chief, told reporters to ask Pheng Chou why police had released her.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE

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