Nine Unionists Arrested During Demonstration at Takeo Factory

Police in Takeo province on Tuesday arrested nine union officials during a protest outside an electronics factory where workers have been striking for almost three weeks, demanding wages equal to their peers in the garment sector.

About 400 workers at the Kuantech (Cambodia) factory, which supplies tech giant Samsung, walked out on June 11 after claiming factory bosses had not heeded an agreement to increase their salaries from $123 to $128.

The provincial court handed down an order on June 23 ordering workers back to the factory within two days. But about 30 of the workers continued to protest Tuesday outside the factory in Tram Kak district.

Acting district police chief Sok Sochea said that nine unionists, along with one person operating a loudspeaker, were arrested by provincial police Tuesday.

“They have been inciting the workers to protest since June 11 and today they…destroyed a gate belonging to the factory,” Mr. Sochea said. “The factory filed a complaint to the court and the court ordered police to arrest them.”

Puth Sovann, president of the Trade Union Federation for Workers, who was not at the protest, said one of his officials was arrested and that the seven others were from six different unions.

“We think that their detention happened without proper reason…. The police confiscated their property,” he said, explaining that motorbikes belonging to the union officials were confiscated.

Hing Sokhom, 23, one of the protesting workers, said the group attempted to bring their protest into the factory compound at about 2 p.m. but met resistance from guards.

“Some workers wanted to go into the factory, but [the guards] did not allow them to, therefore they broke the gate in order to get in,” she said. “But they still could not get in because the security guards prevented them and hit them.”

Ms. Sokhom said about 40 police officers arrived at the scene at about 3 p.m. and began arresting people.

Ek Meanith, an administrator for Kuantech, could not be reached.

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