Five Union Officials Questioned for Extortion

Five union officials were called in for questioning by police on Tues­day after they were accused of extorting money from the manager of a Russei Keo district garment factory, union officials said Thurs­day.

Nai Sok Veasna, president of the Federal Union of Solidarity, said police questioned him and four of his colleagues over accusations that they had extorted $1,000 from Thou Chhai Kieng, general manager of the Maurea Garment Corp.

The four included the union‘s sec­retary-general, Ly Sofy, his de­puty Chan Srey, and union representatives Sun Chan Dara and Lun Sitha.

Nai Sok Veasna said that Sun Chan Dara and Lun Sofy had accepted $1,000 from the factory’s general manager, who offered the cash to ward off an upcoming strike and hold a party for the workers ahead of King Norodom Sihamoni’s birthday.

The union officials took the cash and the party was held outside the factory on Monday evening, Nai Sok Veasna said.

“They lured us into a trap. They gave us $1,000 to hold a party and then they sue us,” he said.

Around 1,000 workers at the factory went on strike Wednesday to push for 13 demands relating to working conditions.

Nai Sok Veasna said that his car has been confiscated by po­lice in­vestigating the case.

Hong Setha, head of the Mun­icipal Police Minor Crime Bu­reau, refused to comment Thurs­day.

Phnom Penh Deputy police Chief Seng Vanna confirmed Thursday that Nai Sok Veasna’s car had been confiscated but did not say why.

General Manger Thou Chhai Kieng denied that the lawsuit was de­signed to intimidate the union and accused Nai Sok Veasna of also demanding an additional $300 for himself.

“They took my money,” he said. “I gave [it to them] because he asked for it to end the strike.”

Negotiations between the factory and union will start Friday at the Department of Labor Inspection, said Khem Bun Chhean, a ministry negotiator.

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