Workers Strike To Get Fired Colleagues Back

More than 30 staff members at Phnom Penh Municipal Cable TV went on strike Tuesday to demand the reinstatement of eight employees who they say were fired for introducing a union to the company.

The protesters, who are members of the Free Union of Cable Television, staged a sit-down protest outside the company’s offices in Prampi Makara district’s Veal Vong commune; they said they will continue the strike until their former colleagues get their jobs back.

Several representatives from the Free Trade Union, which claims to have 70,000 garment factory employees, also participated in the protest.

FTU Deputy President Sam Srey Mom warned that his union will stage a nationwide strike if the television union’s demands are not met.

Neang Nareth, chief of administration at Municipal Cable TV, denied that the workers were fired for their union activities.

Rather, she said, the company gave them the boot in November for secretly installing cable for customers on company time and pocketing the money. The company will not reinstate them, she added.

“They didn’t respect the company’s time,” Neang Nareth said.

The firm has no objection to staff belonging to a union, she added. “We don’t discriminate against unions. We have allowed them to work freely.”

Free Union of Cable Television President Eng Vanna denied he and his fellow union members had been installing cables and keeping the fees. “They fired me because of discrimination,” he said.

Kuy Tepdaravuth, director of the Ministry of Labor’s dispute department, issued a statement Dec 22 saying his department was not opposed to the firing of Eng Vanna, his deputy president Sreang Sidero and the union’s secretary-general Nhem Cheachana.

The three were guilty of unspecified “mistakes,” Kuy Tepdaravuth wrote in the statement. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Oum Mean, undersecretary of state at the Labor Ministry, said the ministry has forwarded the case to the Arbitration Council.

“We must wait for the council’s decision on who is right and who is wrong,” he said.


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