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Unionists called to court seven years after protest

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Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) president Pav Sina at Phnom Penh Municipal Court in April 2016. Hong Menea

Unionists called to court seven years after protest

Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) president Pav Sina and six other union members were summoned to appear at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on January 25 over a protest in 2012.

A court summons, dated January 14 and issued by the court’s deputy prosecutor Heng Pheng, named the men who are due to appear as Sina, 37; Chheng Chhoan, 33; Chheng Sina, 43; Pen Sitho, 32; Huon Bunna, 32; Tuy Suot, 39; and Un Vanduy, 32.

They stand accused of “public insult and intentionally causing damage” after a protest at Ocean Garment Co in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district on August 13 and 14, 2012 in violation of Articles 307 and 410 of the Criminal Code.

Article 410 involves intentionally defacing or damaging property belonging to another person. The offence is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of four million riel ($1,000). Article 307 refers to “public insult” and defamation and is punishable by a fine of up to 10 million riel.

Sina told The Post on Sunday that he had received the court summons. However, he said he needs to discuss with his co-defendants before saying whether he will attend court on the proposed date.

“I think the court should completely drop the charges because the factory closed a long time ago. The case was filed against me in 2012 and now in 2019 the court summoned me. I almost forgot about this case,” he said.

Sina said he has had seven lawsuits filed against him, while his colleagues have had 14 lawsuits filed against them.

He said there are three active cases – one regarding the infamous 2014 strike on Veng Sreng Boulevard, one regarding a factory in Kampong Speu province, and the one in question from Ocean Garment Co.

On May 23, 2012, approximately 1,500 garment workers participated in a protest in front of Ocean Garment Co over unpaid salaries and suspension pay.

The strike was held in response to the factory suspending the workers’ between May 26 and June 26, 2012, at short notice, stating that there were no orders from clients.

The factory offered each worker only $15 for the duration of their suspension.

Ocean Garment Co eventually shut down in 2014.

Municipal Court spokesman Y Rin said he did not know what verdict the investigating judge would come to.