Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Unionist sacking 'no basis in law'

Unionist sacking 'no basis in law'

Unionist sacking 'no basis in law'

The decision by a Phnom Penh Municipal Court judge to support the firing of a union

leader by his employer was condemned as unjust by his lawyer, who said the judge

provided no good reason for his ruling.

Judge Kong Seth ruled March 20 that Modern Plastic Packaging (MPP) was justified

in sacking Ouk Bunneath, head of the union at the company. He was dismissed two days

after forming a union in November 2000. Nine other union members also lost their

jobs.

"The ruling is unjust," said Bunneath. "[The judge] failed to prove

that I made any mistake. I hope the Appeal Court will find justice for me."

At the time he was dismissed Bunneath had already received permission from the Ministry

of Social Affairs (MoSALVY) to establish the union. In response to MPP's decision,

150 workers then went on strike to demand the union members be reinstated. Seventythree

of them were subsequently fired by MPP.

The labor inspection department of MoSALVY rejected the company's decision and wrote

a letter to the management of the Thai-owned company in January 2001 telling them

to re-hire Bunneath and two other union activists. The company refused, blaming their

dismissal on economic difficulties rather than the newly-established union.

"[Bunneath] broke the internal regulations of the company," a company spokesperson

told the Post outside the court. "All the laid-off staff agreed to accept compensation,

except him."

Bunneath, a mechanic, said he turned down compensation in defense of the 70 workers

who lost their jobs striking on his behalf.

"Those workers had followed me for many years," he said. "I did not

want to disappoint them."

His lawyer, Legal Aid Cambodia's Lean Chenda, said the judge's ruling did not follow

the law. She added that the judge had not even reviewed the letter sent to MPP by

the ministry. Chenda said she represented seven unionizers in a similar case in Kampong

Speu province in March this year.

In that case, she said, the judge followed the law and ordered the Hong Kong-owned

Cambodian Apparel garment factory to reinstate seven union members who were sacked

in early 2000 after they too tried to form a union.

He also ordered the company pay each worker $1,000 compensation and their salary

back-dated to their dismissal. The decision might be appealed.

Chenda said these were the first two cases involving Cambodian workers who lost their

jobs trying to form a workers' union.

"I see that enforcement of labor law is still weak," she said. "More

importantly, [companies] still do not understand about the freedom to create unions."

MOST VIEWED

  • First Cambodian woman graduates from Japan’s NDA military academy

    A few years ago, Meach Sithyka Jessica became the first-ever Cambodian woman to graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point, and since then her courage and determination has served as an inspiration for other Cambodian women. Similarly, Ly Chansocheata became the first Cambodian

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • 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 meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod