Striking Workers Blame Rival Union Leader for Attack; 4 Arrested

Four people were arrested Thursday over an attack on protesting workers in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district, who say a rival union leader was responsible for ordering the attack, officials and worker representatives said.

About 300 workers at the Tianyan International (Cambodia) Fashion factory have been striking since Tuesday over the dismissal of Cambodian Labor Union Federation representative Kong Samnang. Kep Sarun, one of the striking workers, accused the president of the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit, Mom Siek, of hiring a mob to carry out the attack because he did not support the walk out.

“We are protesting to demand the factory reinstall Kong Samnang because the factory fired him without reason,” Mr. Sarun said. “We also want the factory to increase our bonuses.”

Mr. Sarun accused Mr. Siek of organizing 40 to 50 thugs to carry out the attack shortly after 7:30 a.m.

“The union inside the factory did not want us to protest, therefore [Mr. Siek] hired a group of gangsters to hit and interrupt us,” Mr. Sarun said.

“Some workers were strangled while others were pushed down to the ground. Therefore, we asked the district governor to arrest them,” he said, adding that nobody was seriously injured in the attack.

Mr. Sarun said workers at the factory—which employs around 800 people—would continue striking today.

Mr. Siek refuted the accusation that he was behind the attack.

“I did not hire anyone to commit this and I am not afraid because I have done nothing wrong,” he said. “If I committed this, I dare to face the law.”

Deputy district governor Prach Seiha confirmed that arrests were made after workers filed a complaint over the alleged attack, but declined to provide names of the arrested as the investigation into the incident was ongoing.

“We arrested four people this morning after we received complaints from the workers that they had been hit,” said Mr. Seiha, adding at 5 p.m. that the suspects were still being questioned.

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