Camboya - Union officials arrested after protest at garment factory

Two members of the Free Trade Union (FTU) were arrested by plainclothes police in Kampong Speu province on 1 February 2016 following a protest over anti-union discrimination. Workers at the Chinese-owned Cerie (Cambodia) garment factory in Samrong Tong district had been protesting for almost a month against the firing of three trade unionists who tried to organise workers at the factory. The Arbitration Council had ruled on 15 December 2015 that the three be reinstated, but the ruling was ignored.

The two arrested were Toch Srun, leader of the FTU branch at the factory, and Yung Leap, an FTU official from the national union who had come to help coordinate protests. Chea Mony, president of the FTU, said they were arrested by police officers who had been watching from a car, just after the protest ended. The police officers were in plain clothes, they used an unmarked car, and did not produce arrest warrants. Mrs Leap and Mr Srun were charged with incitement and damaging private property and remanded in custody. Eye witnesses said the protest was not violent, and even the Garment Manufacturers’ Association – an organisation that represents factory owners – said the unionists had followed legal procedures in their protest over the firing.

Toch Srun and Yung Leap were released on bail by the Kompong Speu Provincial Court on 9 March 2016, under court supervision, still facing charges of incitement and intentional violence.

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