Rival Labor Unions Face Off With Lawsuits

Two union leaders from Phnom Penh’s Shu Hsing garment factory sued each other this week over complaints including defamation, inciting workers to hate the CPP and making death threats, union officials and authorities said Thurs­day.

Cambodia Workers Rights Union chief Chhin Sony, along with members of the Cambodia Workers Labor Federation Union, filed a lawsuit to the Prek Leab commune chief Oct 1 charging that Sem Srey, chief of the Rule of Law Union, defamed him and in­cited workers to hate the CPP.

Sem Srey filed a countersuit Tuesday alleging defamation and threats on her life.

Chhin Sony asked that Sem Srey be punished and made to pay $5,000 compensation for defamation. In the lawsuit, Chhin Sony charged that Sem Srey wrongfully accused him of receiving a new motorbike, a computer and 1 million riel per month as bribes from the CPP.

“I sued her because she defam­ed my unions, especially me. I never got any bribes from the CPP, thus she must find clear evidence to prove her accusation,” he said. His complaint was also sent to the CPP and Phnom Penh mu­nicipality, he said.

However, Sem Srey claimed she had sufficient evidence of the bribes and claimed Chhin Sony threatened her life and defamed her by saying she had cheated money from workers.“I have never incited workers to hate the CPP,” she said. “Those garment workers have disliked the CPP on their own for quite a long time.”

Sem Srey added that she asked for $8,000 for defamation and strong punishment for the alleg­ed threats to her life. She said Chhin Sony not only threatened her verbally, but also in a letter posted on the factory wall.

Labor disputes go straight to the Ministry of Labor and Social Af­fairs, said Prek Leab commune chief Preap Mony said. “But, however, I will play my role as local authority to check how big the problem is, then I will make reconciliations between the two sides,” he said, adding he will call the two parties for a meeting next week.

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