Camboya - Union-bashing by two major breweries (2011)

In December, Cambodia Brewery Limited (CBL), in which Heineken has a 33.5% stake, used intimidation to stop beer promotion workers, commonly referred to as «beer girls», from taking part in a meeting their union had invited them to. The brewery refuses to negotiate with their union, the Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF). On several occasions, CBL beer promotion workers were called in by their superiors to tell them that one or another union meeting was illegal and that the company is not responsible for their safety if anything happens to them. In the context of Cambodia, where three trade union leaders have been murdered in recent years, warnings of this kind constitute serious intimidation.

Cambrew Ltd, a brewery 50% owned by Carlsberg, also refuses to negotiate with the CFSWF. Cambrew Ltd promotes a yellow union and intimidates beer promotion workers wanting to join the CFSWF, telling them that if they do so they will «break the rice bowl», an expression meaning they will lose their income (implying they will be dismissed). Several beer promotion women elected as CFSWF representatives at the brewery left the union under pressure from the management.

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