Brother of Chea Vichea Elected Union Leader

In a landslide victory, the brother of slain Free Trade Union leader Chea Vichea claimed the union’s presidency in an election on Sunday.

Nearly 800 workers turned out at the polls to elect Chea Mony, 34, whose 650 votes gave him a decisive victory over acting FTU president and runner-up Som Srey Mom, who received 74 votes. The other six candidates combined received 55 ballots.

“I will continue my brother’s struggle to reduce workers’ working hours and raise the workers [conditions],” Chea Mony said after his victory was announced around noon.

The new president pledged to continue to push for many of the labor reforms championed by his brother, including a $70 monthly minimum wage and a 44-hour work week.

The current minimum wage is $40 per month. The work week is 48 hours.

Chea Mony will serve the two re­main­ing years of Chea Vichea’s three-year term.

At the polls, workers expressed their support for the new leader and spoke nostalgically of Che Vichea.

“Although Chea Mony is not as good as Chea Vichea, I hope he can continue his brother’s work,” said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy rallied a crowd of workers at the elections’ opening ceremonies, claiming that a vote for Chea Mony was a vote in support of the union activism that opponents tried to quash with the assassinations of Chea Vichea on Jan 22 and FTU representative Ros So­vannareth on May 7.

The union leaders’ slayings are part of a plot to undercut workers’ rights even as the government tries to convince international donors otherwise, Sam Rainsy said.

“The killing of Chea Vichea and Ros Sovannareth were not accidental. [The killers] want to eliminate the FTU,” he said.

 

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