Strike-Busting Cops Hold Strike of Their Own

At least 70 intervention unit po­lice officers have refused to go to work since Nov 24 after suffering what they described on Tues­day as abuse at the hands of their clock-watching superiors.

The officers, whose unit has built a reputation for quashing pub­lic protests and strikes, in­clud­ing those held by garment factory workers and activist groups, are protesting salary cuts imposed for not being present at their police headquarters 24 hours a day. They have also called for the dismissal of intervention police unit Deputy Chief Touch Yean.

Intervention police officer You Va said Tuesday that when the strike began last week, Touch Yean ordered his loyal officers to strip off his uniform. “They hauled me into a bed and took me out my uniform, leaving me only in my shorts,” said You Va. He said that he was also jailed for three days and four nights then released with a warning not to strike again.

Striking officers, many of whom moonlight as motorbike taxi drivers, said the protest be­gan because their superiors made them remain in police head­quarters around the clock and check in 10 times daily. Other­wise they were docked pay.

Intervention officer Chea So­thun said some officers were docked between $5 and $12.50 in a single month for their absences. He himself lost $5 for driving a motorbike taxi last month.

“With our small salaries, we cannot support our families, and that is why we sometimes have to drive…taxis,” Chea Sothun said.

Striking officers refusing to go to work are now afraid to re­turn to police headquarters be­cause they may be arrested like You Va, officers said.

Deputy Chief Touch Yean said Tuesday that he cut his officers’ salaries because they disobeyed orders and missed work.

“Some of them work as guards for private companies and they do not come to work,” he said.

If the officers come back to work and show their commanders respect, their salaries will be reimbursed, Touch Yean said.”I guarantee when those people come to work, we will not punish them.”

Regarding the arrest and beating of You Va, Touch Yean said the officer was punished for the same reason—he didn’t come to work regularly. “This is an internal problem in which the officers do not respect their commanders, so we have to punish them.”


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