Union Leader to Appear in Court Over Demonstrations

The first of six prominent union heads facing charges that include causing intentional violence and damage said he will appear at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court today for questioning related to his alleged role in garment sector wage protests in December and January.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said he would follow a summons to appear at the court to be questioned by Judge Chea Sokheng. He added that the timing of the court summonses, in the midst of negotiations over a new minimum wage, was evidence that the court was being used to intimidate the union leaders.

“The court just wants to threaten and prevent us from the $177 campaign” for a raise to the current $100 minimum wage, he said. “They will put me under the court’s supervision.”

Mr. Sina said Morn Nhim, president of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, is also summoned to appear this afternoon. He predicted that they would be prevented from taking part in campaigns for a higher floor wage in the coming weeks.

Free Trade Union leader Chea Mony on Thursday received his summons to appear at the court on September 15 over the same charges.

Mr. Mony said he intends to attend his hearing but vigorously defended himself against the charges.

“The demonstrations were sparked by the Ministry of Labor not giving a decent wage to the workers,” he said. “It is not the fault of the unions for leading them to protest.”

The campaign for the $177 minimum wage received support this week from international labor groups IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation, which will come together for a global day of action next week.

“The global day of action on 17 September will be a sharp reminder that the world is watching as Cambodia sets a new minimum wage,” Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, is quoted as saying.

“Cambodia is an important sourcing country to the fashion industry and yet pitiful wages mean that garment workers live in poverty and are forced to work exhausting hours to survive.”


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