The president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Union was summoned to Phnom Penh Municipal Court Monday to answer questions regarding two counts of defamation, the union leader said Monday.
The New Orient Garment Factory is suing CCAWDU President Chhorn Sokha for a statement she made in a Jan 17 Cambodia Daily article. Chhorn Sokha was quoted as saying, “We held the strike because the factory doesn’t respect the labor law. The factory forced the workers to strike.”
New Orient’s lawyer David Chanaiwa has said the statement was defamatory because Chhorn Sokha had no evidence to support her allegations.
Chanaiwa also has filed a suit on his own behalf against Chhorn Sokha for a Cambodia Daily story printed Jan 21, in which she said five union members were allowed to return home from court because the plaintiff, represented by Chanaiwa, lacked proper documentation to try the case. “She should be accountable for making certain accusations. I definitely had enough documents,” he said.
The union leader denies both charges.
She said Monday that the lawsuits are aimed more to harass the unions than to restore the plaintiff’s tarnished names.
“They want to…intimidate the union,” she said.
Chhorn Sokha said if New Orient and Chanaiwa did not drop their suits, she will countersue.
On Tuesday, Municipal Court Chief Prosecutor Uk Savuth confirmed that he began his investigation into the two cases Monday.
“If they don’t stop their lawsuits, I will sue the factory,” Chhorn Sokha said. “And the lawyer I will sue back because he didn’t have legal documents from the factory to sue the union members.”