Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Union reps beaten, arrested in Kampong Speu

Union reps beaten, arrested in Kampong Speu

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, talks to the media yesterday during a press conference in Phnom Penh.
Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, talks to the media yesterday during a press conference in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Union reps beaten, arrested in Kampong Speu

Five members of an independent union were arrested yesterday following a bloody scuffle at the Agile Sweater Factory in Kampong Speu province that unionists say was instigated by a gang under the command of the factory’s pro-government union.

Officials from the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, or CUMW, arrived at the factory at 6:40am yesterday to provide support for workers protesting there since December 24 over a list of nine demands. CUMW member Mom Ratha said the unionists were met by 10 people, who immediately began to beat them with sticks.

“They hit me in the head and I got bloody there,” he said.

But when police arrived, five union officials were arrested instead, Ratha said.

“It’s a great injustice for us when the authorities arrested our guys while they let the people who beat us go . . . Authorities conspired with that group.”

Local authorities denied the account, blaming the beatings on union members trying to block workers from returning to work.

“In this violent case, they beat each other, and we arrested five people because they beat up other people and they did not allow workers to go to work in the factory,” said provincial prosecutor Keo Sothea, who declined to elaborate.

On January 8, an injunction was issued by the provincial court ordering the factory’s workers to return to work within 48 hours.

The injunction also ordered the CUMW and other unions to stop leading strikes and “threatening” workers from going back to work.

CUMW president Pav Sina said the union appealed the injunction and accused Sok Ravuth, the head of Agile’s only union, of being behind the beatings yesterday as well as another attack on union officials on January 6, when the CUMW first came to help.

“We ask the government to take action against Sok Ravuth, his accomplices, and the employers who conspired to beat our union trying to help the workers,” he said.

The five CUMW officers arrested yesterday are Khat Lot, Prom Bunthorn, Mao Moy, An Thona and Cham Samnang, Sina said. Six other union officials were injured, he said.

Sina added that if the Kampong Speu court did not release the officers, the union would demonstrate nationwide.

A previous dispute at Agile in October erupted after two workers were arrested for incitement for trying to start another union in the factory. The dispute ended following the two workers’ release.

Factory representatives could not be reached yesterday.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the Collective Union of Movement of Workers as the Cambodian Union of Movement of Workers.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42