Union leaders urged to admit faults to gain legal assistance

Taing Vida / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Ath Thorn is among the union leaders currently facing court cases. KT/Mai Vireak

The Labour Ministry is complying with an order issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen for ministries to review court cases of union leaders and advocate for them to be sped up or dropped, an official said yesterday.

Last week, Mr Hun Sen ordered the Labour and Justice Ministries to intervene in the cases, noting that the leaders raised concerns that their cases are obstructing their work.

Currently, Chea Mony, former president of the Free Trade Union; Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union; Yang Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions; Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Work; and Rong Chhun, a former unionist and election official, are facing long-standing charges.

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The union leaders were sued by factory owners and government officials over intent to commit violence and other charges stemming from nationwide strikes over minimum wages between 2013 and 2017.

The Labour Ministry yesterday issued a form to the union leaders that they must complete in order to gain assistance from the ministry.

In the form, the leaders must acknowledge that labour and union conditions are improving under the leadership of Mr Hun Sen and must also admit that they were wrong and their activities infringed on the rights of others.

Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said the union leaders must also detail each of their cases in order to qualify for assistance.

“The ministry does not know how many union leaders were charged or were involved since the ministry is not the plaintiff,” Mr Sour said. “We asked them to make reports and detail each of their cases so that we may help in speeding up court procedures.”

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“In order to obtain a positive result, the union leaders must cooperate with the ministries,” he said.

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin yesterday said the ministry is working with the courts to identify all of the charges filed against the union leaders.

Mr Malin said that the intervention will not affect the independence of the courts.

“We are now analysing legal solutions based on the law to speed up the cases, but whether or not the charges would be dropped is up to the courts,” he said.

Mr Sina said he will complete the form and detail his cases, adding eight others in his union will also do so.

“I will do the report and make the request after I have arrived in Cambodia,” he said. “The court should drop all charges against us because we are innocent.”

Mr Chhun said he has yet to receive word from the ministries, but noted that he would not write the request.

“I will not write any request. If Hun Sen wants to, he can drop all of the charges,” Mr Chhun said.

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