Kandal Textile Workers Strike to Free Jailed Union Leaders

Around 300 Kandal province textile workers marched on the provincial courthouse Monday afternoon, demanding the release of union leaders jailed after a strike, officials said.

Workers from five different factories in Ang Snuol district went on strike June 20 in front of E Tent Cambodia Co Ltd, a textile factory, to protest labor conditions, said Chea Vichea, president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia. But the demonstration turned violent, he said, with some of the demonstrators destroying property at the factory.

District military police then arrested two Free Trade Union leaders: Par Sokhoeun, 23, and Noun Bros Nith, 22, on June 21, according to Tom Vai, the deputy provincial police chief. The two are being held on charges of theft and destruction of property, he said.

Their detention led to Monday’s strike, where 11 truckloads of workers arrived in front of the Kandal provincial courts, asking for their release. Kandal officials compromised, saying the two men would be released if the union could provide three letters of guarantee of character, one from neighbors or relatives, one from the workers, and one from their respective commune chiefs, Chea Vichea said.

However, the larger issue of labor conditions still remains, he said, saying workers will continue striking in front of the factory today. About 3,000 people from five factories are on strike, he said.

The strikes and arrests come just two days before labor authorities are set to negotiate with other Free Trade Union strikers over the firing of union activists at Concept Cambodia Co Ltd, a garment factory. Concept workers have been on strike since June 9.



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