Police in the Angkor archeological park dispersed some 30 construction workers on Monday who were protesting for the return of their jobs and recognition of their union by a Japanese government agency working to safeguard the area’s monuments, authorities said.
The group protested at the Elephant Terrace for about one hour before being chased away by police officers, said Tan Chay, chief of the Interior Ministry’s Special Heritage Police Department.
“It doesn’t matter if they gathered peacefully, they gathered without permission. It is a violation of the law,” Tan Chay said Monday.
“If they do it again without permission, I will use my force to beat them in order to crack down. They have too much freedom,” Tan Chay said.
Uong Savath, president of the Angkor Preservation Workers’ Union, said Monday that the protest stemmed from the firing over the past few months of some 50 workers, including himself, by the Japanese Government Team for the Safeguarding of Angkor.
According to Uong Savath, those who protested Monday did so to assert their claims that they were fired for pushing the Japanese project to recognize their union.
Mey Kosal, a project assistant for JSA, denied that the workers were fired but said that they were laid-off when their work contracts expired.
Recognition of the construction workers’ union was not possible because it was no longer registered with the Ministry of Labor and was therefore not a legal entity, Mey Kosal said.
He added that the construction workers were being agitated to strike by the Cambodian Construction Workers Trade Union Federation.
“The NGO does not exploit their workers,” Mey Kosal said.
Rath Rot Mony, president of the Construction Workers Trade Union Federation, said Monday that the dispute could be resolved quickly, but only if the Japanese organization recognized the construction workers union and rehired staff made redundant.