Union Leaders Deny Blame for Factory Fire

Three labor unions traded ac­cusations Thursday over where to place blame for workers torching a warehouse at Goldfame Enterprises International Knit­ters, Ltd.

Two of the unions—the Cam­bodia Union Federation and the Khmer Youth Federation Trade Union—held a news conference Thursday to blame the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia and its president, Chea Vichea.

“Chea Vichea and the Cambo­dia Labor Organization were in­citing the demonstrators to push through the gate and burn down the building,” said Chuon Mom Thol, president of the CUF, who said he was not at the plant when the fire started.

But he said his 200 members and the 300 KYFTU workers were not in­volved in the violence.

Chea Vichea dismissed the charges as ridiculous. He, too, said he was not at the factory when the trouble occurred, but that his union “has no members at the Goldfame factory, so how could I have led them to destroy the factory?”

Yun Rithy, president of the KYFTU, apparently was the only union official actually at Goldfame when the fire was set.

He said he was inside, negotia­ting with officials, when the mob poured through the gate.

“Even I, myself, was chased by the workers, who were trying to hit me,” he said.

Various unions have sought to sign up the nearly 4,000 workers at Goldfame, who say the factory managers have illegally tried to stop them from unionizing. The company denies the charge.

Chea Vichea said if he were guilty as the other unions say, he would have been arrested.

He said most of the workers belong to the other unions, which want to blame him be­cause the factory is owned by powerful officials who now face financial losses.

 

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