Workers Say Police Disrupted Union Election

Prohibited by police from gathering in front of their workplace in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district, more than 100 United Ath Gar­ment Factory workers were forced to move to another district to elect union officials, union representatives said Sunday.

More than 1,000 workers were expected to attend the Sunday morning vote, but district police and local authorities repeatedly dispersed small gatherings of workers in front of the factory in the Kakab commune of Dangkao district. Instead, the workers traveled to the offices of the Coalition of Cam­bodian Apparel Workers Dem­ocratic Union in Chamkar Mon district.

More than 10 police officers with shields and electric batons were in front of the factory, said CCAWDU organizer Ath Thun.

Ath Thun said he asked Min­ister of Women’s Affairs Mu So­chua to intervene with Kakab commune officials, but despite her pleas on behalf of the new union, the request was refused.

Sok El, Kakab commune chief, said Sunday he denied the workers permission to gather because they did not have an official letter authorizing their gathering.

“I understand people have the right to assemble, but I have an obligation to keep security,” said Sok El, who denied that police with electric batons or shields dispersed the workers.

“Workers felt scared and broke their gatherings,” said Mach Sopheap, 25, who was selected as factory union president from a pool of 27 candidates. “However, some workers were brave and took motorbike taxi drivers with them to vote at CCAWDU.”



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