FTU Rep Claims Death Threats as Factory Dispute Rages

A Free Trade Union representative at a Phnom Penh garment factory, where the FTU are currently involved in a dispute with another union, said yesterday he had received a telephone death threat warning him to cease his union activities.

Srey Sorn, FTU representative at 8 Star Sportswear Ltd in Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey commune, said he had received an anonymous call on Oct 15 in which the caller threatened to shoot him in the head. Mr Sorn said he immediately lodged a complaint with district police and lodged a new complaint with municipal police on Thursday.

Mr Sorn said he had recently become a target for intimidation by a newly formed union–the Collective Union of Movement Workers–that set up in the factory in June.

“Their members come to curse me in front of the factory,” he said.

The new union’s representative at the factory, Fah Saly, is a former FTU member, Mr Sorn said. Mr Sorn says he started receiving threats after he declined to join Mr Saly’s union–which has around 50 members at 8 Star–on Oct 3. The FTU represents 961 of the factory’s 1,100 workers, he added.

8 Star manager Susan Lee said the factory was aware of the alleged threats against Mr Sorn but considered the situation a “small problem” that could be handled internally.

CUMW President Pao Sinar–himself also a former FTU member–said his union was not behind the threatening call.

Mr Sinar also denied that Mr Saly had invited Mr Sorn to join the new union–which he claims has 10,400 members at 17 different factories in Phnom Penh and Kompong Speu province.

FTU President Chea Mony said Mr Saly had volunteered with his union, but was dismissed, allegedly after being caught extorting money from workers. He said the union could not be sure who was threatening to kill Mr Sorn.

“We don’t want to accuse anyone and we will let the authorities work on this case,” he said.

Mr Mony said the FTU was regularly threatened but remained in a strong position.

“I am still firm. My union remains a good market for workers,” he said.


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