Cambodian Garment Workers: $160 We Need! Part 3 20140307- 20140522

CAMBODIA

$160 We Need

Garment workers demanding $160 minimum wage

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* Garment unions: the call for women to represent women:

20140307 PPP Of-Cambodia’s-nearly-half-a-million-garment-workers,-90-per-cent-are-womenOf Cambodia’s nearly half a million garment workers, 90 per cent are women.
Photo by Heng Chivoan.

Of Cambodia’s nearly half a million garment workers, 90 per cent are women. Their unions have played a major role in Cambodian politics recently as their demand for a $160 monthly minimum wage has become a rallying cry for the opposition.

But those unions are dominated by men, creating a situation that one expert has termed “a woman’s movement under male leadership”.
Among the six major union federations, there is just one run entirely by women at the top level: the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC), which has 25,000 members across 32 factories. Morn Nhim, a middle-aged former garment worker, is its president and founder.

She and other women who have risen to the top ranks agree that they are better equipped to respond to women’s unique needs, such as maternity leave, breastfeeding and sexual harassment.
“Women know each others’ problems, so we choose women to represent the workers,” she said in an interview at NIFTUC’s headquarters.

Nhim began her career in the garment sector in 1997 during the industry’s early years. Workers were far less organised than they are today, with the Cambodia Labour Organisation (CLO), a labour rights NGO which shut down in 2005, providing the bulk of support.

“There were no NGOs or unions like [today], but one of the NGO officers from CLO came to train the workers about the laws and the working conditions, and I saw that I should work for workers because there was too much pressure from the employers, and the workers appointed me to be a representative.”
read more.
PPP new

* Labor unions not allowed to hold public forum at Freedom Park:

Phnom Penh City Hall said that it didn’t allow a coalition of 18 labor unions and associations to hold a public forum at the Freedom Park on March 8.

In a letter issued Thursday, Phnom Penh deputy governor Khuong Sreng asked the union leaders to hold the public forum at their offices.
“Phnom Penh City Hall didn’t allow them to hold public forum because the Cambodian People’s Party and Cambodia National Rescue Party’ talks on election reforms are underway,” the statement said.
However, the leaders of the coalition of labor unions and associations still maintained their stance to hold the forum scheduled for March 8 – International Women’s Rights Day.
The forum is expected to draw around 30,000 participants as well as speakers from labor unions, government and the opposition to raise questions over the suppression, arrest of workers and wage demands.
to read .
CAMHERALD

* Security Forces Hold Drills Ahead of Saturday’s Union Forum:

Some 2,000 police officers in full riot gear carried out demonstration-suppression drills at Olympic Stadium on Thursday, ahead of a scheduled forum hosted by labor unions at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on Saturday.

The U.N. special rapporteur to Cambodia, Surya Subedi, also released a statement Thursday welcoming Mr. Hun Sen’s touted lifting of the ban on the constitutional right to free assembly, despite a number of public gatherings having since been violently quashed this week and other rallies denied permission.

“I was pleased to learn that, in a speech delivered on 25 February, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that the ban would be lifted,” Mr. Subedi said in the statement.

Despite the Prime Minister’s announcement and the Ministry of Interior conceding that his statement trumped its ban on public gatherings, the unions who plan to gather at Freedom Park on Saturday have had their request to hold the forum rejected by City Hall.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Police drill ahead of forum:

On the same day 18 union federations made their final decision to move forward with a labour rights forum in Freedom Park on Saturday, thousands of police officials from several departments gathered in Olympic Stadium for a training session.

“Plans for a demonstration, such as the one on March 8, is nothing new for us; we have faced similar challenges many times already,” said Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito, who insisted yesterday’s training session was unrelated to the planned forum. “We train to strengthen our capacity.

On Saturday, union groups plan to gather at Freedom Park to both celebrate International Women’s Day and discuss pressing issues in the garment industry. Following last week’s boycott of overtime in which some garment workers took part, the forum is the last action before a planned stay-at-home strike, which is scheduled to begin on March 12 and last until at least March 19.

Discussion at the forum will focus heavily on garment workers’ demands for a minimum monthly wage of $160 and the release of 21 activists and workers jailed since January crackdowns.
read more.
PPP new

Cambodian anti-riot police conduct exercise in preparation for future protests:

The Phnom Penh Municipal Police held a special training at the capital’s Olympic Stadium on Thursday afternoon in preparation for any future demonstrations.

More than 2,000 policemen, armed with shields and batons, joined the half-day training, Gen. Chuon Sovann, chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, said.
“It is usual for armed forces to get training in order to strengthen their abilities in maintaining security, safety and public order for the city,” he told reporters at the event.

He said the training had no aim to threaten the opposition or its aligned trade unions that have planned to hold rallies, but it aimed to protect safety and public order if any violence occurred during protests.
“The security forces will protect demonstrators if their demonstrations get permission from the government or the interior ministry,” he said. “But if demonstrations are illegal, protest leaders must be responsible for any incidents.”
read more.
GLOBALTIMES

* BetterFactories Media updates 7 March 2014, Union reps must prove clean criminal records:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-07 Gov’t passes buck on faintings
2014-03-07 Police drill ahead of forum


* to read in the printed edition The  Cambodia Daily:
2014-03-07 Security forces hold drills ahead of Saturday’s union forum
2014-03-07 Union reps must prove clean criminal records

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

* Cambodian riot police prepares to attack women’s march tomorrow:

This International Women’s Day, IndustriALL Global Union is mobilising support for Cambodian women garment workers, 30,000 of whom will defy government warnings to gather in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park tomorrow, 8 March.

Government officials have explicitly warned IndustriALL affiliates not to mobilise the mass Forum on Labour Rights, and this morning released ominous photos in the local press of riot police in the Olympic Stadium preparing for an attack on the peaceful demonstration.

An elite military group under the leadership of the Prime Minister’s son is also gearing up for violence tomorrow. This group was responsible for the brutal attacks on IndustriALL member unions at the Sabrina factory last year that killed two unborn babies of striking workers.

IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle stated:
We are immensely concerned for the safety of our Cambodian sisters tomorrow, facing heavily armed government forces on International Women’s Day. But we are even more inspired and proud to stand with them in solidarity. Their campaign is for a minimum wage increase to US$160, trade union rights and the release of 21 activists jailed in the previous mobilisations around 5 January. IndustriALL affiliates will lead tomorrow’s demonstrations, and we remain in constant communication.

IndustriALL trade union affiliates are responding to the call for messages of solidarity to be sent to the Cambodian women worker leaders. One of the main organisers of tomorrow’s action is Mohn Nihm, President of trade union affiliate NIFTUC and Chairperson of the IndustriALL Women’s Committee in Cambodia. See the photo of this inspiring leader opposite. Prominent unions taking support action include IG Metall of Germany, UA Zensen of Japan, and the TCFUA of Australia.
The three IndustriALL affiliates central to tomorrow’s action are CCAWDU, NIFTUC and FTUWKC.

Next week, from 12 to at least 19 March, garment workers will carry out a stay-at-home strike action as the next step in the campaign for a decent increase to the minimum wage.
This follows last week’s boycott of overtime.
The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has set up a special committee to conduct research and make recommendations on the wage increase.
But workers demand change now.
read more and take action: sign the petition!

* Cambodia bans public forum planned by opposition-aligned trade unions on Women’s Day:

Cambodian authorities have refused to give permission to the opposition-aligned trade unions and associations to hold a public forum at the capital’s Freedom Park on Saturday.

“The Phnom Penh Municipality does not allow the 18 trade unions and associations to hold the public forum on March 8 at the Freedom Park or other public places because this forum’s purpose has mixed with political characteristics,” said a letter signed by Phnom Penh Vice-Governor Khuong Sreng and sent to those trade unions and associations late Thursday.

“In the meantime, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have subsequently met and discussed electoral reforms, so the ban is to give time to the two political parties to continue their negotiations in a better atmosphere, especially to avoid affecting security, safety and public order for the people,” the letter said.
read more.
CHINAORG

* World is watching as women workers protest in Cambodia:

The predominantly female garment workers of Cambodia will be protesting in Freedom park, Phnom Penh on Saturday, International Women’s Day. Their main concern is low wages, but they are also protesting about the restrictions on freedom of association and assembly. Their rally is billed as a ‘Forum on Labour Rights’.

Global unions are worried that the Cambodian government will respond violently, as they were over Christmas when at least 5 protesters were killed. All week the Cambodian government has been moving police and troops into position, preparing for what is designed to be a peaceful protest.

Knowing that the world is watching might just give the Cambodian government second thoughts. So TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady wrote to the Cambodian Prime Minister on Friday, and global union IndustriALL has set up an online action so that you can add your voice to those calling for restraint. Frances’ letter says:

“I am deeply concerned at reports that roughly 2,000 police officers in riot gear recently carried out crowd-control drills at Olympic Stadium. Together with the recent decision of the government to appoint the heads of the armed forces to the Committee to Solve Strikes and Demonstrations, this makes us fearful about the safety of participants in tomorrow’s protest.”
read more.
STRONGERUNIONS

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* Women’s day forum blocked:

A show of force by authorities today at Freedom Park suppressed a planned public forum on garment industry issues, causing union leaders to cancel the event timed to International Women’s Day.

The leaders of 18 union confederations had planned to discuss issues including the continued push for a $160 minimum monthly wage and the release of 21 activists and workers detained during a January crackdown – despite City Hall and the Ministry of Interior forbidding the gathering in decisions earlier this week.

“I’m disappointed that the government didn’t allow it and that the authorities blocked Freedom Park,” Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said after the incident. “Freedom Park [should allow] for freedom of the workers.”

As early as 7am police manned barricades blocking off the park and side streets leading there. By 8am, black-helmeted Daun Penh district security guards wielding batons stormed through a crowd of about 50 gathered near the blockade, blowing whistles, shouting and herding the group toward the Naga Bridge.
read & see more. (video report.)
PPP new

* 12:21h (loc.time)  LICADHO Livestream:

The workers’ forum at Freedom Park has now come to a close as has the event at Boeung Kak Lake marking International Women’s Day.
(…)

* 11.07h
Today’s events have been reported by independent Khmer language media outlet, Voice of Democracy. Read the full article here:
Post by VodHotNews.com.

Here’s a summary in English:
This morning, at 9am, leaders of unions and associations including Ath Thun from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU) arrived at Freedom Park in order to lead a public forum. Security guards had a verbal conflict with people which led to people throwing bottles of water at each other while security guards tried to prevent them entering Freedom Park.
During the public forum Ath Thun condemned the government for the ban on public gatherings and the crackdown by the authorities on workers’ gatherings.

09:53H
On Monivong Boulevard, the marchers have given up their attempts to proceed and are turning round and going back to their villages to celebrate International Women’s Day there. They have been unable to deliver their petition which called for justice for the 21 men who remain in detention after their arrests in early January. Among the 21 is Chan Puthisak whose wife was marching with the group today.

The petition asked the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to:
intervene with the court in the case of arrested land rights activist, Chan Puthisak and open the hearing immediately for the 20 other arrested people in order to provide justice and to release the 21 without condition so that they can meet with their families.
(…)

09:27H
20140308 LICADHO
Union leaders have managed to move to the edge of Freedom Park where they are addressing the public and the media.
Meanwhile, at Freedom Park, the standoff continues. Cambodia Daily Editor-in-Chief is reporting from the site.
Two trucks carrying police armed with tear gas launchers pass near standoff between 100+ riot police & Women’s Day Marchers #Phnom Penh— Kevin Doyle (@doyle_kevin)
(..)

08:29H  Crowds Gather

Having been blocked from entering Freedom Park, a small crowd of about 250 people have gathered at the Dragon Bridge on Norodom Boulevard to the side of Freedom Park. Some union leaders have begun to arrive and security guards are standing close by.
read more.
licadho

* Free The 23:

In January 2014, 20 garment workers and 3 prominent human rights activists were targeted and arrested by the Cambodian military and police for striking and organising for a minimum wage of USD160 per month.

This movie is for their release.
to see here.
CHANNELFREEthe23

* Sar Kheng Bans Rally, Gives Police $54K in Bonuses:

Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Friday warned that a union-led public forum scheduled for Freedom Park on Saturday morning would not be allowed to proceed, adding that a fresh wave of union marches next week are also banned.

The security minister’s comments came during a talk he gave to more than 3,100 police officers at the Interior Ministry compound, during which he lauded the security forces’ response to strikes and protests—which have left at least seven civilians dead and dozens wounded since September.

Mr. Kheng also handed each officer present 70,000 riel ($17.50) in cash, amounting to a total of $54,477, as a gesture of his thanks for their work in suppressing protests.

“We have to avoid this problem [protests] from happening again, so we have to gather to protect our national security, stability and protect our election result, the government and National Assembly,” Mr. Kheng told the officers.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* GMAC welcomes government commitment to labor law:

The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia says it appreciates and supports government action to enforce the union registration provision of the Cambodian Labor Law.

In a statement released Friday, GMAC noted that Article 269 of the law stipulated that administrators and managers of professional organizations had to be at least 25 years old and be able to read and write Khmer.

The article also requires that administrators and managers have not been convicted of a crime and have been engaged in the job for at least a year.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodian union activists banned from entering Freedom Park:

Hundreds of opposition-aligned trade union activists and workers terminated their outlawed rally on Saturday after heavy security forces had been deployed in and around the capital’s Freedom Park to prevent them from entering the Park to hold a forum on the International Women’s Day.

“Those activists ended the rally peacefully after having gathered for about two hours on a street near the Freedom Park because the authorities did not let them enter the Park to hold the forum,” said Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for a rights group. “There had been no any clash at the rally.”

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, one of the 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations, said at the event that the rally was to call for a wage increase for garment workers and the release of 21 protesters detained since January.
read more.
AUTHINT

* Roundup: Cambodian union activists end rally after banned from entering Freedom Park:

Hundreds of opposition-aligned trade union activists and workers terminated their outlawed rally on Saturday after heavy security forces had been deployed in and around the capital’s Freedom Park to prevent them from entering the Park to hold a forum on the International Women’s Day.

“Those activists ended the rally peacefully after having gathered for about two hours on a street near the Freedom Park because the authorities did not let them enter the Park to hold the forum,” said Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for a rights group. “There had been no any clash at the rally.”

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, one of the 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations, said at the event that the rally was to call for a wage increase for garment workers and the release of 21 protesters detained since January.
read more.
CHINAORG

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* Photographs Of How Intl. Women’s Day Should Not Look Like:

Quest for Land/ Boeung Kak Lake

Louis Aragon: “Women are the future of men”…

That’s maybe why, in Cambodia, men shut them up, lock them up, beat them up…
Hopefully, and unlike in these photographs, Cambodian women will enjoy a peaceful day tomorrow for International Women’s Day…

Honouring the Cambodian women who struggle to be heard…
read & see more.
JohnVink

* Cambodian union activists end rally after banned from entering Freedom Park:

Hundreds of opposition-aligned trade union activists and workers terminated their outlawed rally on Saturday after heavy security forces had been deployed in and around the capital’s Freedom Park to prevent them from entering the Park to hold a forum on the International Women’s Day.

“Those activists ended the rally peacefully after having gathered for about two hours on a street near the Freedom Park because the authorities did not let them enter the Park to hold the forum,” said Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for a rights group. “There had been no any clash at the rally.”

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, one of the 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations, said at the event that the rally was to call for a wage increase for garment workers and the release of 21 protesters detained since January.
read more. & read more.
GLOBALTIMES CAMHERALD

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* Protest Ban Firmly in Place on Women’s Day:

Freedom Park was placed under lockdown and a march by land rights activists was blocked Saturday morning as Phnom Penh’s security officials were out in force to ensure that peaceful rallies on International Women’s Day could not go as planned.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 25 indicated he had restored the constitutional freedom to assemble, overturning a January 4 protest ban instituted by the Ministry of Interior, but authorities have continued to break up demonstrations critical of the government, sometimes violently.

At about 7 a.m. Saturday, police began forming a perimeter of 2-meter tall metal barricades on the east and west sides of Freedom Park, and blocked roads entering the park from the north and south.

Shortly before 8 a.m., Daun Penh district’s extra-legal security guards, the black-helmeted men who have come to symbolize the government’s brute intolerance for public gatherings, began to chase away journalists and human rights observers who had gathered near the park.
(…)
The union leaders laid out their demands for a strike planned for the middle of this week: a $160 minimum wage, the release of 21 protesters who were imprisoned following the violent suppression of garment worker demonstrations in January, the prosecution of military police who shot dead five garment workers and injured at least 40 more and an end to legal intimidation of union leaders.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* After blockade, unions plot next move:

Union federations today will finalise their strategy for a stay-at-home strike scheduled to start on Wednesday, amid recent government and police suppression of union activity.

Unions will first meet individually to discuss whether they are willing to continue striking past the scheduled March 19 ending and whether the strike should consist only of workers staying home or involve workers showing up to factories but not performing their duties, said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union.

Leaders of the 18 union federations supporting the strike will then meet later today and agree on a definite plan.

“We have discussed among the 18 trade union [leaders], now we are … in the process of making sure with the workers,” Thorn said yesterday.

If unions stick to their schedule, the strike will start only days after authorities manned barricades around Freedom Park on Saturday, thwarting plans to hold an International Women’s Day forum, at which they planned to discuss the minimum wage and the continued detention of 21 activists and workers arrested at January demonstrations, among other garment industry issues.

By 7am on Saturday, municipal police and helmeted Daun Penh security guards stood watch in front of Freedom Park and side streets leading there. An hour later, the baton-wielding security guards herded the group of about 50 people gathered across the street from the Freedom Park blockade, blowing whistles and shouting at people while driving them back to the Naga Bridge.
read more.
PPP new

* BetterFactories Media updates 10 March 2014, GMAC applauds government decision to screen union leaders:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-10 After blockade, unions plot next move

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-03-10 Protest ban firmly in place on Women’s Day
2014-03-10 GMAC applauds government decision to screen union leaders

* to read in the printed edition Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2014-03-10 A big American buyer expresses concerns over strikes for higher wage

BetterFactories Media updates Overview here.
BF NEW

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* Strike may be shifted to post-holiday date:

A stay-at-home garment strike scheduled for tomorrow is in doubt after a number of workers and unionists urged that it be postponed until after the Khmer New Year, a union leader said yesterday.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said some workers feared the strike would leave them without money for the holiday period.
Leaders of the 18 union groups involved in the strike will meet today to decide whether to proceed, he added.

“We want to continue planning this strike, but we have received the suggestion from our members and workers to suspend it until after the Khmer New Year next month,” he said.
For weeks, the unions have been threatening that a stay-at-home strike will begin tomorrow and run until at least March 19.
The unions and workers behind it want a $160 minimum monthly garment wage and the release of 21 workers and unionists arrested at the height of a strike in early January.
read more.
PPP new

* Union activists defy government ban on public forum:

Hundreds of union activists in Cambodia defied a government ban on a public forum for garment workers, timed to coincide with International Women’s Day on Saturday 8 March.

Over 500 hundred union activists attempted to attend the rally at Freedom Park in the capital Phnom Penh but were met with heavy resistance by armed police who had barricaded entrances to the park.

At one stage, security guards wielding batons stormed a small group of marchers forcing them towards Naga bridge at the edge of the park. Eventually, in a tense stand off, the activists increased in number and were able to push back the security guards, while trucks carrying police with tear gas launchers patrolled alongside Freedom Park.

The leaders of 18 unions had called for a public forum to discuss an increase in the minimum wage for garment workers, 80% of whom are women, and the release of 21 workers detained since a brutal police crackdown on strikes in January, which left 4 workers dead and 39 people injured.
read more.
Home

* Arrested union leader Vorn Pao speaks from prison:

In December last year, violence against garment workers began after Cambodian unions called a national strike. Workers were demanding an increase in the minimum wage to USD 160 per month.

As protests continued, the police and military responded with violence on January 2 and 3, killing at least 4 people and injuring almost 40. Among those who were arrested with violence is Vorn Pao, union leader of the Independent Democratic Informal Economy Association (IDEA). In February, he smuggled a letter out of prison.

Letter from Vorn Pao to All Comrades, posted by his wife on Friday 14 February 2014

I, Vorn Pao, would like to say hello to all members of associations, unions, federations, confederations, international and national civil societies, international and national networks, and all Khmer patriots living both in the country and around the world!

I have known that there are millions of Khmer people inside and outside the country that are striving to advocate for our freedom and release from CC3 Prison.
Your action is really a new, enormous driving force to demand rights and freedom for our nation and to show that we hunger for justice and peace for our nation as well.

Moreover, I have known clearly that everyone has been busy day and night pushing for our freedom.
For me, even though my body is being detained in prison, my soul, my ideals, my willingness and my consciousness is not being detained.
Prison has provided me enormous life experience as a social advocate and shown various types of images, especially the life of prisoners.

Many scars from wounds are on my body, creating a lot of pain for me, but it cannot shock me or depress me or make me forget the social struggle because I hope that one day in the near future, we will receive our freedom after our united sacrifice. Every activity is for the sake of our nation, ourselves and our next generation.
Our nation has suffered so many years from people who have always mistreated and wanted to destroy our nation from generation to generation.
Therefore, every action of sacrifice is for the sake of ourselves as well as our next generation.
read more.
Site

* Cambodian opposition-aligned trade unions postpone garment strike:

Eight opposition-aligned trade unions on Tuesday decided to delay a stay-at-home garment strike scheduled for March 12-19, said a union leader.

“We met Tuesday morning and decided to postpone our strike until after the Khmer New Year,”said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, adding that the strike was re-scheduled for April 17-22. “The postponement came after some workers feared the strike would leave them without salaries for the New Year holiday,”he said.

The unions’ planned strike aims to demand a 160 U.S. dollars minimum wage for garment workers and the release of 21 detainees who were arrested in early January during violent protests.

According to Pav Sina, the eight trade unions represented over 100,000 out of the 600,000 workers in about 900 garment and shoe factories in the kingdom.
read more. & to read.
CHINAORG GLOBALTIMES

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* Six Unions Suspend ‘Stay At Home’ Garment Strike:

The majority of garment factory unions organizing a nationwide stay-at-home strike among their members, which was set to begin today, decided to delay their plans until next month following a meeting among union leaders Tuesday.

Only two out of the planned eight labor unions will push ahead with the strike to demand a $160 minimum monthly wage, while six others have decided to delay the industrial action until after the Khmer New Year holiday, which begins on April 14. Eight labor associations who were also supporting the strike action were also split on whether they would stay at home Wednesday.

The unions that have decided to hold off on the strike include the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU), the country’s largest independent union, and the influential, opposition-aligned Free Trade Union.
Ath Thorn, president of CCAWDU, admitted that if he were to go ahead with the strike, few of his members would actually join.

“We are following our members’ request and if we continue to hold the strike, few workers would participate,” Mr. Thorn said, adding that CCAWDU would instead ask workers to stay home for one week following the Khmer New Year.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Planned strike delayed; some vow to press on:

Sixteen of 18 union groups planning the biggest industrial action since security forces shot dead at least four people in January agreed yesterday to postpone a stay-at-home garment strike until after the Khmer New Year.

The official reason given was that workers had expressed fear of being left broke and unable to return home for the holidays.
Some union leaders, however, said they were concerned over disunity between the strike’s organisers, while another said unions needed the extra time to rethink their strategy when it came to rallying workers and securing a $160 monthly minimum garment wage.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said workers would now hold a stay-at-home strike from April 17 to 22.
“There were eight people who appeared at the meeting today, and we decided to delay the strike on the suggestion of the members and workers,” he said.

But Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said his group, along with the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, disagreed with the postponement.
“I will not abandon my plans, even if not all workers join. But I hope all my members – about 8,000 – will think the same as me, as well as workers from other unions,” he said.

But questions are now being asked about the extent to which workers support the concept of mass strikes in the future.
Unions had predicted up to 30,000 would attend a public forum planned for the capital’s Freedom Park last Saturday. When government forces blocked their entry, the number of protesters was only in the hundreds.
read more.
PPP new

* BetterFactories Media updates 11-12 March 2014, Planned strike delayed; some vow to press on:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:

2014-03-11 Strike may be shifted to post-holiday date
2014-03-12 Bribes often cost of doing business survey
2014-03-12 New look at Vichea murder
2014-03-12 Planned strike delayed; some vow to press on

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:

2014-03-11 A framework for higher growth and more and better jobs
2014-03-12 Business employers say corruption greatest threat to economy
2014-03-12 Court orders new probe of Chea Vichea murder
2014-03-12 Inspections highlight safety risks at Bangladeshi garment factories
2014-03-12 Six unions suspend Stay at Home garment strike

* to read in the printed edition  Rasmei Kampuchea Daily (Khmer):

2014-03-12 Unions postpone strike plan
BetterFactories Media updates Overview here.
BF NEW

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* On 1st Day, Garment Strike Gains Little Traction:

Two unions that called for a stay-at-home strike by garment factory employees Wednesday had little success in mobilizing workers after six other unions, under pressure from the government and factory owners, pulled out of the planned industrial action on Tuesday.

Union leaders who pushed ahead with the industrial action said that their members in 14 factories joined the strike, though some were back to work by the end of the day for fear that they would lose their jobs.
Workers at one factory confirmed that they had staged a successful walkout Wednesday.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) reported that none of its more than 400 factories were affected by the strikes, which unions initially said would involve hundreds of thousands of garment workers across the country.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Minority of unions still strike:

A small number of workers from four union groups took part in a stay-at-home-strike yesterday, union leaders said, after mass industrial action was postponed the day before.

Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun said members of his union from a “small amount” of factories had chosen to stay home as they continued calls for a $160 minimum monthly wage and the release of 21 men arrested during a strike in January.
“I think it is an effective way of appealing to the government and factories,” he said. “We told the workers to only do it for three days.”
Most of the 18 union groups involved in planning the strike agreed on Tuesday to postpone it until after Khmer New Year.
read more.
PPP new

* Riot Police Ready for Action, Protests on Standby:

About 100 Daun Penh district riot police on Wednesday held exercises in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park in preparation for possible industrial action in a week that garment workers’ unions had called for a mass stay-at-home strike.

Unions had downscaled plans of street protests to a mass stay-away, scheduled to begin Wednesday, but then were divided Tuesday on whether to go ahead with the strikes at all, and nothing materialized Wednesday.
But Daun Penh district officials said they were continuing security preparations in the event that the situation changed.

“We don’t know whether the unions have really suspended the protests, so we are carrying out exercises in case something does occur and if it does, we will crack down,” said first lieutenant Nuth Vichet.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Freedom Park off-limits: city:

Freedom Park will remain off limits indefinitely for protesters, authorities said yesterday, despite Prime Minister Hun Sen suggesting last month that a ban on public assembly was being lifted.

Pich Saroeun, chief of Russey Keo district’s Chroy Changva commune, said Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong had announced during a road inauguration in his commune that he was placing a “temporary” ban on gatherings at the park.

The governor, Saroeun added, had given no firm indication of when that ban would be lifted, other than to say it would not be before investigations into the deadly violence of early January and other clashes were finished.
read more.
PPP new

* BetterFactories Media updates 13 March 2014, On 1st day, garment strike gains little traction:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:

2014-03-13 Businesses need help fighting corruption CAMFEBA
2014-03-13 Freedom park off limits city
2014-03-13 Grand Twins sets listing date
2014-03-13 Minority of unions still strike

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:

2014-03-13 Government’s trade union law may limit freedom of association
2014-03-13 On 1st day, garment strike gains little traction
2014-03-13 Riot police ready for action, protest on standby

* to read in the printed edition Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):

2014-03-13 About 2000 workers at Ocean garment go on strike and block roads
2014-03-13 Freedom Park closed down and banned from demonstrations

BetterFactories Media updates Overview here.
BF NEW

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* Nationwide Garment Factory Strike Fizzles After First Day:

What was initially planned as a nationwide garment factory strike involving hundreds of thousands of workers has effectively ended after its first day, with only a few factories reporting work stoppages, according to the two union leaders who called for the strike.

“All workers have gone back to work as normal because they received information that the Ministry of Labor is working to look into workers’ salaries,” said Yaing Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions.

On Tuesday, six other union leaders pulled out of the planned strike, which was set to begin on Wednesday, claiming that workers were scared that they would not receive their salaries before the Khmer New Year holiday in April.

Ms. Sophorn said that comments made by Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng following an event at Phnom Penh’s Sofitel hotel on Wednesday had convinced workers that the government would reconsider the minimum wage, as unions are demanding.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* New Report Says Garment Sector Fails to Meet UN Standards:

Cambodian garment manufacturers and the association that governs them are failing to meet the standards set by the U.N.’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, as evidenced by lethal violence against workers during garment strikes in January, when five people were shot dead and scores wounded by state forces, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has said.

The Cambodian garment sector is “mired in ongoing human rights violations” and the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has “refused to condemn the lethal use of force against striking workers,” a briefing paper released by FIDH late Wednesday said.

“Cambodian manufacturers and GMAC have clearly failed to respect workers’ rights,” in light of the guiding U.N. principles, the statement said.

“Brands have failed to prevent and mitigate adverse human rights impacts by their business partners, and have failed to exercise leverage with Cambodian suppliers and business associations to prevent such abuses,” it continued.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* BetterFactories Media updates 14 March 2014, New Report says garment sector fails to meet UN standards:

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:

2014-03-14 New Report says garment sector fails to meet UN standards

2014-03-14 National garment factory strike fizzles after first day

BetterFactories Media updates Overview here.
BF NEW

* Unions and brands mount pressure on Cambodian government:

Unions and brands are increasing pressure on the Cambodian government to address the demands of garment workers in the country.

IndustriALL Global Union, Uni Global Union and the ITUC together with 30 major brands, including H&M, Inditex, Gap, Adidas and Nike, have signed a joint letter to the Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia reiterating the need for an urgent resolution to the minimum wage and to respect the human rights of 21 wage protestors detained since demonstrations in January.

The letter follows a decision by Cambodian unions to postpone a planned strike on 12 March to allow time for dialogue with the government on the minimum wage process. Garment workers are demanding an increase in the minimum wage from US$ 100 to US$ 160 a month.

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL, said:
“The unions in Cambodia have shown goodwill by postponing the strike, now it is time for the government to come to the table for constructive talks. Global unions and brands are united in their efforts to support this process to seek an end to the stalemate over the minimum wage. All the brands must commit to paying more to suppliers cover the costs of increased wages.”

Philip Jennings, general secretary of UNI Global Union said:
“The time has come for a new approach in Cambodia and that should come through recognition of global labour standards and dialogue. We call, once again, for the government of Cambodia to immediately release the 21 workers still behind bars for simply being brave enough to speak out about injustice.”

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the ITUC, said:
“Freedom of association is under serious attack in Cambodia right now. The government has frozen all new union registrations and has banned public demonstrations supporting workers’ rights. Workers face retaliation in their workplaces for exercising this fundamental right. We all want to see a sustainable garment industry, and the government and employers need to respect freedom of association. Unions in Cambodia and around the world will campaign to ensure that Cambodian workers can exercise this basic right.”
read more. & read more.& read more.
INDUSRIall UNIglobalUNION ITUC CSI IGB

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* Fashion Labels Concerned By New Trade Union Law:

A group of 30 international garment brands on Friday wrote to Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon to express their concern over the government’s draft union law, which could allow for the arbitrary suspension or disbanding of unions.

The letter, which was signed by brand names such as H&M, Gap, Adidas and Nike as well as the IndustriALL Global Union, Uni Global Union and the Interna­tional Trade Union Confede­ration, follows after talks between the clothing buyers and senior government officials in Phnom Penh on February 19 to address instability in the garment sector after the lethal suppression of strikes in January. 

In their letter on Friday, the clothing brands cite reports that unions have been prevented from registering at the Ministry of Labor, and that the government will not recognize any new unions until it has passed its new union law, which places new restrictions on labor groups.

“The passage of the Trade Union Law [must be] consistent with International Labor Organi­zation (ILO) conventions 87 and 98 to establish effective industrial relations,” the letter states, adding that the brands hope the drafting of the law is also an “inclusive process.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* Court Probe of Veng Sreng Street Slaughter Ends:

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has finished an investigation into the shooting deaths of five protesting garment factory workers, and the wounding of more than 40 others, during a military police operation against stone-throwing strikers on January 3, Judge Phou Povsun said Sunday.

“We had finished the investigation on Friday,” Judge Povsun said.
“When we finish the investigation, the prosecutor will make his conclusion and after he finishes the conclusion, he will send it back to me. I will check it and decide who will go to a hearing or what,” he said.

Mr. Povsun said it will depend entirely on the prosecutor whether anyone has a case to answer from the violence on Veng Sreng Street in the city’s industrial belt.
“We will have to wait [for] the conclusion from the prosecutor…. We will wait and see the conclusion after we have the result of the investigation,” he said. “We do not know about the hearing yet.”

There are currently 21 people detained in jail after being arrested by soldiers and military police officers during garment strike protests on January 2 and 3.
Last week, during high-level talks held in Brussels, the European Union called on visiting Cambodia government officials to release the 21 jailed protesters.
to read.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* Dying for fashion:

Deadly clashes between poor garment workers and police are threatening to cripple Cambodia’s largest export industry.

20140318 ALJAZEERA
Garment workers pile into trucks every morning to get to work [Tiffany Ang/Al Jazeera]

Cambodia’s largest export industry is facing its biggest crisis, with garment workers and security forces engaged in a series of ongoing clashes. One recent protest left five people dead and scores injured.

The violence comes after weeks of political and labour unrest crippled Cambodia’s garment industry.
While the international spotlight has focused on the garment factories of Bangladesh, Cambodia’s garment workers have been staging their own revolution. Hundreds of industrial strikes have left the industry in turmoil and presented Prime Minister Hun Sen with the toughest political challenge in his nearly three-decade rule.

Last year 381 industrial strikes were recorded, up from 102 the previous year. Backed by a powerful workers’ union, the nationwide strikes are fuelled by opposition-led, anti-government protests demanding Hun Sen’s resignation.

Cambodia began exporting garments in the 1990s. Low wages and an abundant workforce, powered mainly by the country’s rural population, have drawn major clothing brand names like GAP, H&M, Nike and Puma to Cambodia. Today, the industry is a $5bn-a-year business with almost 550 factories, mostly owned by Taiwanese, Korean, Chinese, Hong Kong and Singaporean companies.
read more.
aljazeera

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* All quiet on the garment front:

20140320 PPP Freedom-Park-Garment-workers
Garment workers fill Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park during a CNRP rally in December. Photo by Hong Menea.

Analysis
A hush has fallen over Cambodia’s garment sector. With the exception of the occasional strike, life on the factory floor has in ways returned to how it was before the mass strike that turned deadly in January.

“The situation is much quieter than after the violence,” says Ear Chheng Lim, 26, a worker at the Canadia Industrial Park, near where security forces shot dead at least four people on January 3. “I have not seen any police or military police along Veng Sreng [Boulevard] this month. The situation outside the factory, actually, is normal.”

Except it isn’t. The wage issue, which led to the deadly violence, remains unresolved, results of a government investigation into the fatal shootings remain unreleased and calls continue for 21 unionists and workers arrested to be freed.

“All this could be resolved overnight,” said Dave Welsh, whose labour-rights organisation Solidarity Center has been meeting with the government regularly. “Momentum continues in terms of fairly massive pressure and attention … but there’s been no movement.”

Last week, unions postponed a stay-at-home garment strike until after the Khmer New Year, citing workers’ financial concerns. While unions demanding a $160 minimum wage remain confident they will still be able to rally workers, communication between them and the government has broken down.
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodia’s stability is hanging by a thread:

The conflict over raising the minimum wage in Cambodia’s textile industry reflects a growing power struggle between the government and the opposition, which might throw the nation into a political deadlock.

Textile workers in Cambodia have been demonstrating for weeks demanding a monthly minimum wage of around 115 euros. Violent clashes broke out during protests that took place last December and in January. According to human rights organizations, five protesters were shot dead by the police and many more were seriously injured. Twenty-three people were arrested.

David Welsh of “Solidarity Center,” a labor rights organization in Phnom Penh, is concerned about the recent developments. “This is a gross violation of trade union rights in the largest and most important economic sector of the country. This has nothing to do with the rule of law,” said Welsh.

Overwhelmingly women
More than half a million workers are employed in Cambodia’s textile industry. With total revenues amounting to around 5.5 billion USD, the sector generates some 80 percent of the Southeast Asian nation’s export earnings.

However, real wages in the sector haven’t risen for years. Women account for more than 80 percent of the textile industry’s workforce. Van Thina is one of them: She works more than 60 hours a week and makes just over 70 euros a month.

“How will I ever support a family if my salary is not even enough for me to survive on?” asks the 18-year-old. The textile worker says she will take part in a strike set for next month, despite the fact that such a step could cost her her job. Textile workers in Cambodia are usually hired on short-term contracts and they generally lack career opportunities in factories.
read more.
DW

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* The few who stayed at home to strike:

20140321 PPP Breang-Sopheap
Breang Sopheap, originally from Takeo, works between 7am and 4pm. She funds both of her brothers, a teacher and a student. She has worked in factories for more than 10 years. Photo byCharlotte Pert.

The week-long stay-at-home strike proposed by all 18 union groups might have been postponed until after Khmer New Year, but last week four of the unions decided to continue with their own.

The unions and workers who back a strike have asked for a $160 minimum monthly garment wage as well as the release of 21 workers and unionists arrested in early January.

Last Friday, in shared accommodation off National Road 2, where many factories are located, some workers had decided to remain at home.

Long Naty, 26, lives inside a pagoda complex with her mother and sister, who are also both garment workers. They rent a small section of a shared floor. Their corner, measuring roughly 2.5 metres by 2 metres, is marked out by a sheet. She is not worried about her job, she said.
“This is just a small part of the protests – there are many protests in Cambodia now.”

Breang Sopheap, 33, works at the same factory and lives on the other side of National Road 2, down a narrow alley filled with rubble.
She believes that if all the workers in Cambodia join together, there might be change. “Two factories are not powerful,” she said, in between sewing pajama collars which she sells for extra money.
to read.
PPP new

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* Dying for fashion (video report):

Deadly clashes between poor garment workers and police are threatening to cripple Cambodia’s largest export industry.

Cambodia’s largest export industry is facing its biggest crisis, with garment workers and security forces engaged in a series of ongoing clashes. One recent protest left five people dead and scores injured.

The violence comes after weeks of political and labour unrest crippled Cambodia’s garment industry.

While the international spotlight has focused on the garment factories of Bangladesh, Cambodia’s garment workers have been staging their own revolution. Hundreds of industrial strikes have left the industry in turmoil and presented Prime Minister Hun Sen with the toughest political challenge in his nearly three-decade rule.
read & SEE more. (101 EAST video report).
101EAST

* Analysis: Garment workers hold key to Cambodia’s political future:

In the battle for power within Cambodia’s newly competitive political landscape constituencies have become like chess pieces, with varying levels power and possibility.

Few pieces have the potential decisive power in Cambodia’s ongoing political deadlock as the nation’s restive garment workers.

Just months ago garment workers were on strike and swelling the opposition’s street protests. It’s no coincidence that since the bloody January crackdown on Cambodia’s garment workers the streets have been largely quiet.

“Three months after these events in January people are still in prison, there really hasn’t been movement on the minimum wage. Any reinstatement that have taken place have largely as a result of private pressure,” says, David Welsh, Cambodia program director for the Solidarity Center. He added: “Not a dollar of compensation has been given to those that were killed or injured. If anything, things have moved backwards.”
read more.
asiancorres

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* CCHR launches “Where is My Justice?” campaign:

Immediately following the contested National Assembly Elections of the Kingdom of Cambodia (“Cambodia”), which took place on 28 July 2013, Cambodian people were able to exercise their right to freedom of assembly in an unprecedented manner.

However, on 15 September 2013, security forces resorted to their old tactics and have since repeatedly and disproportionately used excessive force to crack down on protesters. The post-election violence has already led to the death of six persons, the disappearance of at least one individual and to dozens of injured. However, while protesters have been arrested and are currently facing charges, an independent investigation into the excessive use of force by Cambodian security forces has yet to take place.

CCHR´s “Where is My Justice?” campaign calls on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to conduct full and independent investigations into the human rights violations that took place, to bring those responsible to justice and to ensure victims´ right to truth, justice and remedy.
read & see more, and please sign here.
CCHR

* Families make plea for justice:

For grieving mother Keo Sok Meng, 50, it’s a question that will never be answered in any way that makes sense.

“How can you shoot my son dead over a $160 salary?” she said tearfully yesterday as she spoke of 23-year-old Pheng Kosal, who was shot dead during a clash between security forces and protesting garment workers on Veng Sreng Boulevard on January 3.

“I will find justice for my son, even if it kills me. Why do Khmer kill Khmer like this?”

Sok Meng’s words came at the launch of a Cambodia Center for Human Rights (CCHR) campaign titled “Where Is My Justice?”, which calls on the government to conduct independent public investigations into the deadly force used by security guards since July’s national election.

At least six people have been shot dead, while 16-year-old Khim Saphath, who vanished during the deadly crackdown on January 3, remains missing.

Khat Samneang, a 24-year-old garment worker, bounced her baby girl on one knee as she spoke of how her husband Kim Phalleap, a 25-year-old garment worker, was killed on January 3 when security forces fired live ammunition into the crowd, injuring dozens and killing at least four.

“My husband died when my daughter was just two months old. No husband is like having a disabled leg and hand – I could not do anything [to support myself] because I had just given birth,” she said. “I appeal to NGOs and the government to help us find justice.”
read more.
PPP new

* Campaign Calls for Justice After State Killings:

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) on Monday launched a one-month campaign designed to highlight “gross human rights injustices” committed by state security forces against civilians since July’s national election.

CCHR will collect 5,000 signatures for a petition to be sent to Prime Minister Hun Sen demanding “a prompt, public, independent and comprehensive investigation of the disproportionate use of excessive force by Cambodian security forces to crack down on protesters.”

The petition will also call for an “end to the cycle of impunity for the perpetrators by bringing them to justice; and uphold victims’ right to justice and remedies, including reparations.”

The “Where Is My Justice?” campaign was launched to coincide with the U.N. International Day for the Right to the Truth. It included a new video report featuring interviews with families of victims of state violence since post-election protests started in September.

“I was far away from him when my son died unjustly,” says Keo Samnang, whose son, Pheng Sam, was shot dead by military police on Veng Sreng Street during minimum-wage garment protests on January 3.

“I have raised him since he was a child and he died at the age of 23—can you imagine?” the father asked.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* IDEA activist denied bail:

20140325 PPP Vorn-Pao-Appeal-Court
Prak Sovannary, wife of detained IDEA president Vorn Pov, talks over a loud speaker yesterday at Phnom Penh’s Appeals Court. Photo by  Vireak Mai.

Moments after Prak Sovannary heard the Court of Appeal denied her husband’s request for bail, she sobbed over a speaker affixed to the top of a tuk-tuk, condemning the decision to about 150 supporters.

“Release him! Release him!” said Sovannary, the wife of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) president Vorn Pov, who was arrested at a garment worker demonstration in January.
“He was detained as a criminal, but he is a patriot and a peace lover,” she said.

Presiding judge Seng Sivutha said in court he denied bail because it could “affect judicial procedures”, said Kim Socheat, one of Pov’s attorneys.
read & see more.
PPP new

* Union Leader Denied Bail, Barred From Hearing:

20140325 CD Siv-channavornpaoProtesters hold up a banner emblazoned with an image of union leader Vorn Pao outside the Appeal Court on Monday. (Siv Channa)

The Court of Appeal on Monday again denied bail to Vorn Pao, the leader of the main union for the country’s large informal sector. He was beaten and arrested by soldiers at a protest on January 2.

Mr. Pao, who is president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association, was among 10 activists arrested by Royal Cambodian Armed Forces paratroopers during the suppression of a nationwide strike of garment workers that had dovetailed with opposition protests.

Kim Socheat, one of Mr. Pao’s two lawyers, said the Court of Appeal denied his client bail for procedural reasons.

“The Court of Appeal has decided to deny Vorn Pao bail because [presiding Judge Seng Sivutha] said the Phnom Penh Municipal Court investigating judge has sent this case to be heard, and if bail is allowed it could affect the court’s procedures,” Mr. Socheat said, referring to preparations to try Mr. Pao.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* Labor Minister Responds to Brands’ Concerns:

Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng said Tuesday that he has sent a letter responding to 30 international clothing brands who recently wrote to the government expressing their concerns over a draft union law which could allow for the arbitrary breakup of unions.

Speaking outside a conference in Phnom Penh on migrant workers, Mr. Sam Heng said that he wrote to the brands, which include H&M, Gap and Nike, explaining that the union law will take into account international labor conventions Cambodia has signed, as well as the state of industrial relations in the country.

In their March 14 letter, the brands said they were concerned the law may not comply with International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions that protect rights to unionize and bargain collectively.

Mr. Sam Heng said the government was working with officials from the ILO to ensure that the country’s new union law is fully compliant.

“We are now preparing to establish the union law with technical sponsorship from the ILO and our policy for this law is to do it in accordance with conventions” that Cambodia has signed, he said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Crackdown in Cambodia- Workers Seeking Higher Wages Meet Violent Repression:

New report calls on brands and retailers to end cycle of inadequate wages and deadly repression.

On January 2 and 3, 2014, Cambodian security forces engaged in deadly attacks on protesting garment workers in the country’s capital, Phnom Penh.The country’s military police killed at least four people and injured at least 38 by firing assault rifles at workers who were protesting outside garment factories, demanding higher wages.
According to the country’s leading human rights organization, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (known by its French acronym, LICADHO), military police fired at workers with live ammunition for a prolonged period with no apparent effort to avoid inflicting injury or death.
Those killed included workers employed at factories supplying a number of major international brands and retailers, including Walmart, Hudson Bay, Sears, Abercrombie and Fitch, Nike, Russell, adidas, Puma, Uniqlo, HanesBrands, Primark, and Marks & Spencer.
The deadly assault was a response to strikes and demonstrations by tens of thousands of garment factory workers calling for a wage adequate to meet their basic needs.
The protests were sparked when the Cambodian government announced a new minimum wage in December 2013, and the increase declared fell below the widely publicized assessment, by an official tripartite body, of the wage workers actually need to meet their basic needs.
read more and download here.
WRC

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* Family of Slain Protesters Questioned Despite Closed Investigation:

Family members of two men slain by military police in violent suppression of a garment worker protest in January were questioned Wednesday at the Ministry of Interior, although the investigation into the killings was officially declared closed on March 16.

Soun Nara, the brother of Yean Rithy, 25, and Khem Soeun, the father of Khem Sopath, 16, said penal police had questioned them in full about the events of January 3.

Yean Rithy was killed by military police deployed to disperse the protesters. Khem Sopath’s body has not been found, but he was last seen bleeding profusely from a wound to the chest at the scene of the protest. Rights groups have called on authorities to investigate his whereabouts.

Suong Samol, the father of Kim Phalleap, 25, another of the five victims killed by state forces, also said that police questioned him last Thursday.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Unions to lead holiday strike:

20140327 PPP Garmnet-Strike
Garment workers protest for a wage rise outside Phnom Penh’s Ministry of Labour in December. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

When is a strike not a strike?

That’s a question being asked after union leaders yesterday announced they will inform garment factory owners that their members want to use annual leave days to wage their stay-at-home strike the week after Khmer New Year.

The leaders of eight unions plan to send a letter to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) this afternoon, asking it to communicate the message to all member factories, Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said yesterday.

“We ask the factory owners to compensate workers [for April 17 to 23],” Thorn said, adding that workers will stay home those days regardless of the response.
Taking annual leave simultaneously falls short of a strike, but keeps pressure on the government and factories, said Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labour program.

“It’s hard to call it a strike,” he said. “But people are communicating their dissatisfaction.”
When asked why unions are requesting the week to count as their annual leave, rather than just call a strike, C.CAWDU vice-president Kong Athit said the action avoided violent government crackdowns.
read more.
PPP new

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* Violence blamed on CNRP:

With victims’ families still awaiting the results of an investigation into the deadly shootings during clashes on January 3, the Ministry of Interior released a separate report on Wednesday accusing the opposition of sparking the violence in an attempt to “topple” the government.

The report also accuses the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and to a lesser extent unions and unnamed NGOs, of inciting “illegal” and “violent” demonstrations that caused $100 million worth of property damage and lost garment orders since last July’s election.

“The illegal demonstrations led by the CNRP was planned provocation aimed at toppling a legitimate government by inciting violent, anarchic clashes, leading to the loss of people’s lives and injuries to security personnel and civilians,” the report says.
read more.
PPP new

* GMAC to explain Cambodian behavior to foreign managers:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia says it will hold a workshop next month to explain to foreign managers why Cambodians behave in certain ways.

“This workshop will provide the participants with relevant cultural information about the Cambodian workers and will show the different perspectives from which the Cambodian worker looks at his work environment,” a statement said.

“Knowing what values, beliefs, and practices strongly affect Cambodians will lead participants to a better understanding of why Cambodians behave in a certain manner or how they would arrive at certain decisions affecting their work,” it added.
read more.
CAMHERALD

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* Thirteen Detained Veng Sreng Activists to Face Court In April:

About 100 activists from three Phnom Penh communities on Friday called for the release of 21 unionists, garment workers and rights activists detained after a series of strikes in January. Some of them are to be tried next month.

The protest was held as it emerged that the trial of 13 of the detainees is to be held April 18, according to a lawyer from rights group Licadho.

“The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has scheduled on April 18 to hear only the case of 13 people arrested in relation to the incident on Veng Sreng Street, but we haven’t received any information about the trial scheduled for Vorn Pao’s group,” said San Sokunthea, who is representing three of the detained, in reference to the leader of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association.

“For the three clients I defend, I hope the Phnom Penh Municipal Court will drop the charges, because my three clients have done nothing wrong,” she said, referring to Bou Sarith, 27, and Yon Chea, 17, who were released on bail in February, and Sy Sarath, who remains in prison.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20140207 ALLindustry cambodian_women

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* Workers to file stories from the factory floor:

The Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) is hoping to turn a select group of garment workers into muckrakers by offering a journalism program through the Voice of Democracy news outlet.

Free of charge, the course will last until October and have a firm focus on covering day-to-day life in an industry that employs hundreds of thousands.

“There are 10 garment workers from different factories in Phnom Penh who were selected to join in the project, and we expect that they will become good reporters and report on the situation of the workers inside and outside the factory to the media, especially to us,” said Hok Narin, who is in charge of the project for CCIM.

“They can report about strikes, fainting or working conditions.”
read more.
PPP new

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* Unions, GMAC Tussle Over New Year Strike:

Garment worker unions have tangled with factory owners over the unions’ plan to use the coming Khmer New Year holiday to launch a nationwide strike.

A coalition of eight unions will send a letter today to the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) stating that workers will use their annual leave to extend the three-day holiday, which starts on April 14, through April 22.

“Since there have been requests from unions and union members in a variety of factories, they will exercise their right to continue their holiday after the Khmer New Year from 17 to 22 April…according to article 170 of the Labor Law,” the letter reads.

“Along with the days off, we request [the association] help solve some issues as soon as possible in order to ensure that buyers have confidence to continue to work with Cambodian garment and footwear producers and keep the sector sustainable,” the letter continues.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Fourth Bail Hearing, Trial Date Set for Vorn Pao:

A fourth bail hearing has been set for detained labor leader Vorn Pao ahead of his trial this month, alongside 22 others, for their role in garment strikes in Phnom Penh in January.

Already denied bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on January 21 and the Court of Appeal on February 11 and March 25, the ailing president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association will have his request heard again by the municipal court this Friday ahead of his trial, which will be held on April 18.

Va Sakada, the court’s deputy prosecutor, confirmed that the trial would be held on April 18.
Both men were rounded up and beaten during a crackdown on the strikes. They are suffering from health problems that their lawyers say should see them freed: Mr. Pao has kidney problems, while Mr. Sombath Piseth has a broken hand.

“We asked bail for Mr. Piseth since he has a broken hand and he needs to get treatment. If he doesn’t within five months, he will never recover,” said his lawyer, Muth Piseth.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Operation ‘urgent’ for strike detainee:

Representatives for a detainee held since his arrest at a strike in early January say the window to operate on his broken hand is closing.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday will hear a special temporary bail request for Sokun Sombath Piseth, 31, one of 21 people held in Kampong Cham’s Correctional Centre 3 since crackdowns on January 2 and 3, said Naly Pilorge, director of Licadho, which is providing legal representation for Piseth.

“The hospital in Kampong Cham says [his hand] was broken in four places,” Pilorge said. “There is a time limit where you can operate on a broken bone.”
Piseth is asking to be released from CC3 for five days to receive surgery.

His two previous bail requests – along with the other defendants’ – were denied. But a doctor recently advised that if he does not undergo surgery for the broken hand soon, his injury could render him permanently disabled, Pilorge said.
All defendants arrested during the demonstrations are scheduled for trial on April 18.
to read.
PPP new

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* Court denies rights defenders’ bail request once again:

This morning, Phnom Penh Municipal Court denied two separate bail requests for Vorn Pao and Sokun Sombath Piseth because the CC3 prison authorities had not provided the court with details of their health status, and to preserve public order.

Pao and Piseth are among the 23 workers and rights defenders arrested in early January. As supporters gathered outside the court state security forces again used heavy handed force to disperse them.

Piseth was denied his special medical request for bail release to undergo surgery on his hand. He was severely beaten and had his hand broken by state security forces during arrest. Due to the delay in providing appropriate medical care, his hand requires urgent surgery. Vorn Pao was also refused bail, previously denied at the Court of Appeal on February 11, and on March 24.
read more.
licadho

* Phnom Penh Court refuses to free prominent a protest leader Vorn Pov for the second time:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday rejected again bail request by a protest leader, Vorn Pov.

During one-hour hearing, which was not allowed human rights activists and journalists to attend, the court rejected his bail request.

Anti-eviction and human rights activists were seen gathering outside the Phnom Penh court to demand the release of Vorn Pov and other 20 detained protesters who were arrested during violent clashes on January 2-3.

Am Sam Ath, senior official for human right group LICADHo, said that the court rejects Vorn Pov’s bail requests and another protesters’ bail request because of lack of documents.
to read.
CAMHERALD

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* Vorn Pao Denied Bail for the Fourth Time:

vorn-paoweb
Boeng Kak activist Yorm Bopha is blocked by police as she screams in support of detained labor activists Vorn Pao and Sokun Sombath Piseth outside their bail hearing in Phnom Penh on Friday. (Siv Channa)

Labor leader Vorn Pao was denied bail for the fourth time on Friday, meaning that he and 20 other protesters will remain in a remote Kompong Cham province prison until trial on April 18 for participating in January’s garment factory strikes.

It was the second time he was denied bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Last week, the Court of Appeal also denied his bail request, even though Mr. Pao is suffering from health problems.

Mr. Pao, who is president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association, was not present at court Friday. Neither was Sokun Sombath Piseth, a member of the Center for Labor Rights of Cambodia, who was also seeking bail because of injuries sustained when he and Mr. Pao were clubbed and arrested by state forces during the strikes three months ago in Phnom Penh.

Mr. Pao has kidney problems. Mr. Sombath Piseth has a broken hand.
“It is injustice for my son,” said Mr. Piseth’s 53-year-old mother, Pan Sina. “My son has broken his arm, but the director of the Correctional Center said it is not big deal.”

“They did not allow my son to be bailed to get treatment in Thailand, and we have lost hope,” she continued. “We have sufficient evidence to prove that he needs the treatment but the court still denied it.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Van not fit for 21: CC3:

The director of the Kampong Cham prison where 21 men have been held since a January crackdown on garment strikes has said the detainees may not make it to their April 18 trial date in Phnom Penh, because his van is not equipped.

“There are more than 20. How can I have a car to bring them to trial?” Kea Sovanna, head of Correctional Centre 3, said. “My car is only for going to the nearby market to buy food to cook for them. This car can’t be used for long-distance trips of about 200 kilometres.”

Last month, the CC3 van’s poor condition was also cited as the reason for not transporting the men to a bail hearing.
Authorities arrested 23 people on January 2 and 3 as part of the strike crackdown.
read more.
PPP new

* Union leader: Workers to hold protest after New Year:

Labor union leader expressed pleasure and welcomed the study of minimum wage for footwear and garment factory workers. However, he said that the workers will hold protest after the New Year.

Pav Sina, President of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, expressed satisfaction after Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training announced to work with International Labor Organization (ILO) to study the minimum wage for workers.

However, Sina was also unhappy because the ministry would take a lot of time to study and discuss the wage.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Date set for wage-reform talks:

20140407 PPP wokers-demand-wage
Garment workers march towards the Ministry of Labour during a demonstration last year to demand the industry’s minimum wage be raised to $160. Photo byVireak Mai.

The first phase of promised minimum wage reform is set to begin later this month, when representatives of workers, employers and the government will hash out ideas on how to set a base salary for the garment sector, in a move meant to avert labour unrest like the kind that rattled the country in January.

In an announcement released on Friday, the Ministry of Labour invited members of its Labour Advisory Committee, union representatives and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) to participate in initial talks scheduled for April 24 and 25.

“In essence, this discussion isn’t something about the figure of the minimum wage, but rather focusing on the principles to be used to set the minimum wage,” said Tun Sophorn, national project director for the International Labour Organization (ILO), which the government commissioned as technical advisers.

Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng enlisted the ILO’s help to put in place a minimum wage-setting mechanism after a nationwide garment worker strike erupted following a ministry decision to raise the figure for the garment sector from $80 (including a $5 health bonus) to $100, rather than the $160 unions demanded.
read more.
PPP new

* Labor Ministry, ILO Set Out Plan for Minimum Wage Reforms:

Facing public pressure from major garment brands and labor unions, the Ministry of Labor and the International Labor Organization (ILO) will cooperate in the coming months to reform the current system of setting the minimum wage in the garment sector.

The reform process will begin with a public seminar planned for April 24 and 25, which will mark the first tripartite meeting between the government, factory owners and union leaders since labor protests were violently suppressed in early January, according to ILO national coordinator Tun Sophorn.

“The aim of the meeting on the 24th and 25th is to have a discussion by all parties on the principles to set the minimum wage, rather than the figure. The purpose is for [the three parties] to set what formula will be used in minimum wage setting or minimum wage adjusting,” Mr. Sophorn said.
The Ministry of Labor released a statement Sunday announcing the seminar and inviting public involvement.
“The seminar will show the risk of setting the lowest minimum wage or the highest and evaluate limits to the minimum wage,” the statement says.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* Unions press ahead with strike plans despite arrest threats:

2014-04-08 CD Unions-press-ahead-with-strike-plans-despite-arrest-threats

via BetterFactories. BF NEW Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Union activist freed, but cops keep fliers:

A union activist detained in Svay Rieng province on Sunday for delivering fliers promoting a stay-at-home strike was released after three hours, but police kept the leaflets, he said yesterday.

When Kem Chamroeun, 25, of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) brought a stack of 5,000 leaflets to Full Fortune Knitting, police arrested him, he said.

“I was followed by many police officials, who stopped me and pushed me into their car,” Chamroeun said.
Provincial police officials could not be reached.

The fliers Chamroeun had been distributing encourage workers to stay at home between April 17 and 22 in protest against the government’s refusal to renegotiate the garment sector minimum wage and charges against 23 people arrested in early-January demonstrations.
read more.
PPP new

* BetterFactories Media Updates 5-8 April 2014, Linking the worst factories with the labels:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:

2014-04-07 Date set for wage reform talks
2014-04-07 Leaflets get unionist in hot water

2014-04-08 Union activist freed, but cops keep fliers

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:

2014-04-05-06 Labor activists call out Nike, Adidas, Puma over faintings
2014-04-07 Linking the worst factories with the labels
2014-04-08 Unions press ahead with strike plans despite arrest threats

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

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* Costs don’t top brands’ concerns:

20140409 PPP Garment-Strike-wageGarment workers rally for a $160 minimum wage in Phnom Penh in December. Photo by Vireak Mai.

In their latest bid for a $160 minimum monthly wage for the garment industry, independent unions will lead a “stay at home” strike late next week.

While the chances of that figure being approved anytime soon seem slight – the government has only just announced a date for a committee to begin wage reform talks – industry and government officials have warned that another raise could drive factories and international brands out of Cambodia in search of cheaper markets.

According to International Labour Organization figures released early this year, Cambodia paid the fifth-lowest minimum wage of the world’s top 25 apparel-exporting countries and Myanmar. Only Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar paid less than the Kingdom’s $100 per month.

The idea that buyers would commit to paying more to facilitate higher wages for workers in the industry seems unlikely to Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC). Apparel firms that buy from Cambodia are only willing to pay so much before pulling out in favour of cheaper countries, he said.
“If the price that we’re costing buyers increases . . . then buyers will leave. It’s not a question of them wanting to leave, it’s a question of economics,” Loo said, adding a rising the minimum wage had already driven some brands out of the country – though he did not name any when asked.

In a speech on February 25, Prime Minister Hun Sen echoed the sentiment, sounding the alarm that factories and buyers could leave the country if the government implemented a wage hike.
“We are waiting to see if there are any factories that close their doors because of strikes demanding higher wages,” he said.

But analysts, rights groups and buyers themselves say government repression and acts of violence against unionists in the Kingdom’s garment sector – security forces shot dead at least four people in January – are a greater threat than the prospect of paying higher wages.
read more.
PPP new

* Union Leader in West Seeking Release of Jailed Activists:

His visit comes as another labor leader, Ath Thun, was in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday, facing charges of incitement for similar protests.
read more.
upsrei

* BetterFactories Media Updates 9 April 2014, Incitement charge over SL rioting:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-04-09 Costs don’t top brands’ concerns

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

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* Unions drum up strike support:

20140410 PPP union-leaflet
Union members head out information leaflets about scheduled workers strikes in front of the Canadia Industrial Park on Veng Sreng Boulevard yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

At the site where security forces shot dead at least four people during a nationwide strike on January 3, union leaders yesterday passed out fliers encouraging workers to join a stay-at-home strike after Khmer New Year.

When workers filed out of Canadia Industrial Park’s gates for their 11am lunch break, Seam Sambath, president of the Workers Friendship Union Federation, made his case to passing garment workers – action similar to that which resulted in a unionist being detained in Svay Rieng province on Sunday.

“We must work together in order to help workers earn higher wages and enjoy better living conditions,” he said.

Authorities did not interfere with the group, from at least three unions, as it handed out fliers about the strike, scheduled for April 17 to April 22, to workers at several factories along Veng Sreng Boulevard.

The 18 unions that signed the flier demand the Ministry of Labour raise the $100 minimum monthly garment wage to $160 and drop charges against 23 people arrested during demonstrations on January 2 and 3.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia say the Labour Ministry already set the 2014 minimum wage, and that cases against the 23 defendants – 21 of whom are still detained – are a court matter.
read more.
PPP new

* Unions Spread Word of Strike Through Radio, Web:

With new garment factory strikes only one week away, union activists are using new means to spread the strike call, trying to duck harassment from factories and arrest by police.

Union leaders say members have been fired for handing out leaflets promoting the April 17 to 22 stay-at-home strike. They say police have detained others or confiscated their supplies. While those detained were soon released, police and government officials continue to warn of arrest if pamphleting continues.

Undeterred, the eight unions planning the strike for higher wages are turning to radio and social media to thwart the threats.
(…)

The unions’ main demands, outlined in their leaflets, include a boost to the garment sector’s minimum wage from $100 a month to $160, and the immediate release of 21 men still in jail after a wave of arrests during the last strikes, in early January. Those strikes came to a violent and abrupt end after military police shot into a crowd of protesters on January 3, killing five and injuring dozens more.

Despite their turn to the airwaves and Internet, the unions aren’t giving up on old-fashioned fliers.
Mr. Thorn said the eight union groups have printed about 100,000 fliers in all and still have roughly 20,000 left to hand out.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodian opposition-aligned trade unions call for strike after Lunar New Year:

20140409 XINHUAnet
Union activists hand out flyers to garment workers in front of the Canadia Industrial Park on the outskirts of capital Phnom Penh, Cambodia, April 9, 2014. Representatives of 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations on Wednesday called a weeklong strike scheduled for April 17-22. (Xinhua/Phearum)

Representatives of 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations on Wednesday called a weeklong strike scheduled for April 17-22.

Dozens of union activists handed out leaflets to workers in front of the Canadia Industrial Park on the outskirts of the capital on Wednesday during a lunch break.

According to the leaflets, the strike organizers demanded a 160 U.S. dollars minimum wage for garment workers and the release of 21 detainees who were arrested in early January during violent protests.

Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation, spoke to reporters that the 18 unions and associations were urging workers to go on strike following Lunar New Year holidays from April 14 to 16.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said the opposition-aligned trade unions represented over 100,000 out of 600,000 workers in about 900 garment and shoe factories in the kingdom.

A 23-year-old garment worker at the Canadia Industrial Park said he might not join the strike for fear of job loss.
“Of course, we want higher wage, but job stability is more important,” said Nuch. “If I have no job, I have no money to support my family.”
Current monthly minimum wage for garment workers is 100 U.S. dollars, up from 80 U.S. dollars last year.
read more. & to read.
XINHUAnet CHINAORG

* BetterFactories Media Updates 10 April 2014, Unions spread word of strike through radio, web:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:

2014-04-10 Unions drum up strike support

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:

2014-04-10 Unions spread word of strike through radio, web

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

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* Staying at Home Not a Strike, Factories Say:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) warned garment workers on Thursday that they risk losing their jobs if they extend their Khmer New Year vacation by joining a stay-at-home strike.

Aiming to avoid police suppression of street protests for a higher garment sector minimum wage, the unions are asking workers to stay home for five days after the New Year holiday ends next Wednesday.

But in a newspaper advertisement, GMAC argues that a strike is only a strike if it takes place “within an enterprise or establishment,” citing the Labor Law. The ad also says that arrangements for annual leave can only be made between individual workers and their employers.

“There is no law giving unions or professional organizations the right to decide or request annual leave for individual workers,” the ad says. It warns that workers who stay home after the New Year would be legally exposed to punitive measures.

“Although some workers will not work to demand something from the employers, this action cannot be considered a strike, since they do not come to work and stay at the factory complex,” it says. “Not coming to work is considered an absence, for which they can face punishment or fines in accordance with the laws and rules on labor and the internal regulations of the company.”

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Unions of Movement of Workers, one of the unions planning the strike, said every garment worker should be able to make up his or her mind about whether to join.

He argued that the unions have every legal right to act on their members’ behalf and that it was the workers themselves who had asked unions to help.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* CCHR’s Open Letter to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng asking him to ensure the 23 are present at trial:

To His Excellency Sar Kheng
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Ministry of Interior
Phnom Penh,
11 April 2014

Open Letter calling on His Excellency Sar Kheng Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior, to take all measure necessary to ensure that the 21 accused attend their hearing at the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance.

Subject: Transportation concerns for the 21 accused detained in Correctional Center 3 (“CC3”) regarding their forthcoming hearing at the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance on 18 April 2014.
Reference:
– Criminal Case number 013 dated 03 January 2014, Criminal Case number 016 dated 04 January 2014 and Criminal Case number 019 dated 04 January 2014.
– An article published in the Phnom Penh Post on 07 April 2014.

Dear Excellency,
In reference to the above mentioned subject, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) would like to inform his Excellency that on 18 April 2014 at 8:00AM the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance is going to hear the above mentioned criminal cases.
CCHR is concerned by reports stating that the 21 accused held in detention at CC3 (Tra Paing Phlong, Kampong Cham province) may not be transported to attend
their upcoming hearing.

According to an English article published in the Phnom Penh Post issued on 07 April 2014 Mr. Kea Sovanna, CC3 Director stated that “There are more than 20. How can I have a car to bring them to trial? My car is only for going to the nearby market to buy food to cook for them. This car can’t be used for long-distance trips of
about 200 kilometers.”
Article 31 (1) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia stipulates that “The Kingdom of Cambodia shall recognize and respect human rights as stipulated in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the covenants and conventions related to human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights.” Therefore, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) that Cambodia acceded to in 1992 is part of Cambodian Law. Article 14 (3) (d) of the ICCPR states that: “In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality: to be tried in his presence […]”

Moreover, Article 300 of the Cambodian Code of Criminal Procedure of 2007 states that “the accused shall appear in person during the hearings at the court.” As such, any accused has the fundamental right to be present during his trial hearing. In addition, Article 60 of the 2011 Prison Law stipulates that “the detainee can be temporarily allowed to leave the prison under a court warrant for the purpose of appearing in court […]”
In addition, Article 61 of the same law states that “Prison’s Director shall be responsible for the security and safety of the detainee during transportation to the court […]”  Therefore, according to the law, the transportation of the accused to the court is the responsibility of the host prison and the General Department of Prison which is under the authority of the Ministry of Interior.

If the 21 accused do not attend their trial hearing on 18 April 2014 at the Phnom Penh Court of First Instance, this would seriously violate their right to a fair trial, as well as a violate Cambodia’s obligation under domestic and international laws.

Considering the above, we would like, your Excellency, to call on you to take all necessary practical and legal measures to ensure that the 21 accused that are being held in CC3 will attend their upcoming hearing on 18 April 2014.

Yours Sincerely,
Chak Sopheap
Executive Director
The Cambodian Center for Human Rights
to read.
CCHR

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* Trial of 23 Delayed By Municipal Court:

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court delayed Friday the trial of 23 unionists and striking garment workers by one week.

Rights workers said the court’s move was politically motivated because unionists have called for a “stay-at-home strike” after the Khmer New Year holiday ends Wednesday, April 16. A trial during a strike could inflame emotions.

The court was originally supposed to try the men in three separate hearings on April 18. Now, they are to be tried April 25 on the same charges—causing violence and damage. The men were beaten and detained during lethally suppressed strikes on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street in January.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, said he believes the decision was made after opposition CNRP leader Sam Rainsy failed to meet King Norodom Sihamoni Friday with Prime Minister Hun Sen. The two political leaders held talks on how to end a political deadlock that has seen the opposition stage protests and boycott the National Assembly.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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21:18:52 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* Activists Hold Pre-New Year’s Ceremony for 23:

Anti-eviction activists stepped over flames and watched monks smash ceramic pots at a pre-New Year ceremony in Phnom Penh yesterday, hoping to expel bad luck for 23 men facing trial later this month for their roles in garment protests.

The 23 unionists, activists and garment workers were arrested on January 2 and 3 during protests for higher garment factory wages that ended abruptly when military po­lice shot into a crowd, killing five people and injuring dozens. The 23 men—two have been released on bail—have all been charged with inciting violence and the destruction of public property and are scheduled to be tried on April 25.

“After the Khmer New Year we want the government to lead the country with merit and justice and to serve the country and respect human rights,” said Tep Vanny, one of the activists. “We want the 21 to be freed.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* CPP vows to increase monthly wage to 250 dollars for civil servants and 160 dollars for garment workers by 2018:

The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has issued nine points of its policies for upcoming local council Election which will be held on May 18, 2014.

According a statement issued on Saturday, the policies included a promise to increase the monthly salary to 1,000,000 riel or 250 dollars for civil servants and soldiers and US$160 for garment and footwear factory workers in 2018 and strong commitment to solving land disputes.

CPP also mentioned the good governance, social order and development as its priorities.

The campaign for the Council Election will last from 2-16 May. Five political parties are eligible for the election.
to read.
CAMHERALD

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* Cambodia’s Garment Workers: Videos of a Struggle- Rising For Rights:

Over the past two years, there has been a growing campaign to highlight the plight of workers in Cambodia’s garment industry, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the country’s exports.

The workers, over 80 percent of whom are women aged 18-35, face a myriad of problems including extremely poor wages and living conditions, and the lack of protection for health and safety. When these workers organise themselves to voice out about these issues, they are often met with threats of arrest, violence, and in some cases, death.

In December 2013, Cambodian garment workers went on a nation-wide strike asking for a higher monthly minimum wage than the $75 they currently earn. This led to a violent crackdown by Government authorities and a complete ban on demonstrations.
read & see more. (video reports)
ENGAGEMEDIA

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* Predictions Mixed For Post-New Year Garment Strike:

Along Phnom Penh’s industry-heavy Veng Sreng Street on Wednesday, garment factories lay idle in observance of Khmer New Year. The dorms around them were empty, save for the few workers who could not afford the bus ticket home for the holiday, which ended Wednesday.

Eight unions planning a nationwide stay-at-home strike, scheduled to start today, are hoping it stays that way.

They have been spreading the word for the past several weeks about the strike, which has been called to demand a higher minimum wage in the garment sector as well as the release of 21 protesters imprisoned during the last round of strikes in January.

On Wednesday, union leaders were hopeful that as many as half the country’s roughly 600,000 garment workers will be taking up the call and staying home in protest.

“We expect more than 50 percent of the workers not to come to work until April 22 to demand that the government and Ministry of Labor release the 21 prisoners and give them a $160 [monthly minimum] wage,” said Far Saly, president of the National Trade Union Coalition. “We have informed our workers, handed out 100,000 leaflets and spread the information through social media and word-of-mouth.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodian Garment Workers commence strike for a Living Wage:

Today, thousands of garment workers in Cambodia will stay at home as part of a new series of actions to demand of a Living Wage

The stay at home strike is supported by 18 Cambodian unions and international campaign groups such as Clean Clothes Campaign, and will last for seven days. Workers are calling on major clothing buyers like H&M, Inditex, C&A, Next, Tesco, Puma, Levi’s, GAP and Adidas to take immediate action to ensure an increase in the minimum wage.

Cambodian workers and their unions are demanding an increase in the minimum
wage to USD 160 per month. After unions called for a national strike on December 24th, 2013 the police and military responded with violence on January 2nd and 3rd, killing at least 4 people and injuring almost 40.

Athit Kong from the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU) calls on the brands to resume good faith wage negotiations:

“Diplomatic pressure from brands is not enough any more. It is high time brands take their responsibility and use their buying power to take concrete steps and tackle the issue which lies at the heart of our protests: a living wage.”

In ‘Crackdown in Cambodia ‘, a recently published report by the the US based Worker Rights Consortium, the labour rights monitoring organisation reveals how garment workers in Cambodia have been confronted with growing repression of their human and labour rights. State authorities have banned public gatherings completely and still continue to hold 21 workers in detention.
The workers have reportedly been beaten after being seized by authorities and security forces continue to put down any sign of worker protest.

Clean Clothes Campaign is supporting the workers in their demand of:

* A minimum wage of USD160 per month for garment and other workers

* The release of the remaining 21 prisoners arrested in the early January
crackdowns on garment worker strikes and the dropping of charges against all 23 charged.

* To stop the persecution and targeting of unions and workers, including legal actions against unions by GMAC, the Cambodian Garment Manufactures Organisation, – which represents the suppliers of mayor buyers like H&M, Inditex, C&A, Next, Tesco, Puma, Levi’s GAP and adidas.

* Respect the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining and resumption of good faith minimum wage negotiations.
Site

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* Stay-at-home garment strike off to weak start:

A weeklong stay-at-home garment worker strike over wages began with a whimper yesterday as factories remained closed after a holiday and some workers were ambivalent about the action.

A day after the end of Khmer New Year, the official kick-off date for the boycott, steel gates at factories were closed along the typically bustling National Road 2 spanning Phnom Penh and Kandal province.

“Do we call it strike or not? We don’t care,” Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said yesterday. “It gives the impression to the owners that the strike threat won’t go away unless they resolve the existing conflict.”

The impact of the industrial action will likely not be seen until Monday, when most factories plan on opening their doors after the holiday and the weekend, Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center, said.

Lacking a specific number, Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, yesterday said some factories tried to open but had too few employees to operate.
read more.
PPP new

* Little Appetite for Garment Strike in Phnom Penh:

Most garment factories did not open for business Thursday, choosing to extend the Khmer New Year holidays—which officially ended Wednesday—rather than face industrial action in the form of a planned nationwide stay-at-home strike.

However, a number of workers interviewed Thursday said they knew nothing about the strike, called by eight unions to demand a higher minimum wage and the release of 21 unionists and factory workers arrested during the last round of strikes in December.

Motivated by the fear of violence, the need to earn every dollar they can, or simple indifference, they said they would be back at their workstations as soon as the factory doors opened in the next few days.

Touch, who gave only her first name, was playing a game of cards with fellow garment workers in her dormitory along factory-lined Veng Sreng Street. The unions behind the strike are asking workers to stay home until Wednesday. But Touch said she had not even heard of the strike and would be back at work on Monday, as soon as her factory reopened.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Trial of ‘the 23’ delayed from today to next week:

Judges at Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hear the cases of 23 people arrested in early January during garment sector demonstrations next week, rather than today, according to labour and human rights groups.

Dave Welsh of Solidarity Center and Am Sam Ath of Licadho both said yesterday those arrested during violent demonstrations on January 2 and 3 – the latter of which ended with at least four shot dead by security forces – will be tried in separate courtrooms on April 25 on charges ranging from inciting violence to aggravated intentional violence.

Court officials couldn’t be reached.
read more.
PPP new

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* Nationwide Garment Factory Strike Sputters Into Second Day:

A few garment factories resumed operations in Phnom Penh on Friday, albeit at reduced capacity, as thousands of workers returned to the city after Khmer New Year celebrations in the provinces.

While the majority of factories in Meanchey and Pur Senchey districts stayed closed, it remained unclear if that was a result of a successful labor strike, as unions have argued, or an extended new year holiday, as factory owners claim.

Eight labor unions called for a weeklong stay-at-home strike in the garment industry, beginning Thursday, to demand a $160 minimum wage and the release of 21 activists and garment workers jailed during the last round of protests in January.

However, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) says that factories have agreed to extend the holiday vacation until next week, in what unions claim is an attempt to undermine their strike.

The majority of workers spoken to Friday said that their factories announced a compulsory extended holiday before Khmer New Year, a move that Yaing Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said is meant to prevent the perception of a major industrial dispute in the embattled industry.

“I can’t believe that the factories and GMAC gave the workers more holidays as a gesture,” Ms. Sophorn said. “The factories are working for the buyers and the buyers are waiting for their goods. This extended holiday is just an excuse. Any worker that isn’t at work [Friday] is on strike.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* 2,500 Workers in Bavet SEZ Go on Strike:

More than 2,000 workers at three factories in Svay Rieng’s Bavet City went on strike Saturday, claiming their bosses owed them money.

About 500 workers at the You Li factory, which makes baby clothes, went on strike Saturday because management refused to pay them for Thursday after the workers decided to take the day off without permission, said Heng Davy, one of the strikers.

“We asked them to let us go back to work on April 18 after the Khmer New Year, but they denied our request…and they demanded that we come back to work on April 17,” she said. “We will continue to strike until they do not cut our salary.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* UN Concerned About Detainees’ Presence at Trials:

The U.N.’s human rights office in Cambodia expressed concern Monday that 22 detained protesters may not be allowed to attend their trials on Friday, while the government insisted that the prisoners will be transported to the court.

Two minors were arrested for intentional violence for their role in a November 12 clash near Stung Meanchey bridge between police and protesting SL Garment Factory workers. One has been released on bail. Another 21 detainees rounded up and imprisoned on charges of intentional violence and destruction of property during garment strikes on January 2 and 3 are also set to be tried.

Vanny Vanan, 17, who was arrested in the Stung Meanchey bridge clash, is being held at Prey Sar Prison’s Correctional Center 1. The others are being held in Kompong Cham province’s high-security Correctional Center 3 (CC3).

Wan-Hea Lee, representative of the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, said that fair trial rights will only be fully met if the accused persons are present at the hearing.

“Paperwork, broken vehicles or a lack of petrol money do not absolve the authorities from this responsibility. Failure to ensure the presence of these men at the hearings would undermine the integrity of the proceedings against them and enable the defendants to challenge the validity of the judgments.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Thousands continue their strike:

Nearly 4,000 workers in Svay Rieng province continued protesting yesterday amid a separate stay-at-home strike.

Workers from three factories in the country’s southeast corner held public protests outside their factories in the province’s Tai Seng Special Economic Zone beginning Saturday, said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW).

The striking workers are demanding $50 – the amount of the no-strike bonus all three factories agreed to pay but have withheld in the wake of a nationwide strike that ended in early January, CUMW officer Sok Na said yesterday. They are also calling on factories to rehire 43 workers they say have been fired since the strike earlier this year.

“The factories broke their promise, which caused the workers to get angry and protest,” Na said, adding that workers would continue demonstrating tomorrow.

Employees taking part in the action, which is not related to the stay-at-home strike, represent workers from the Best Way, Smart Tech and You Li factories, Na said.
to read.
PPP new

* Stay-at-Home Strike a Bust as Workers Return to Factories:

The vast majority of the country’s 600,000-strong garment factory workforce appeared to be back on the job Monday despite a call from unions to continue a stay-at-home strike until Tuesday.

Eight unions had spent weeks urging workers to stay home after the Khmer New Year from April 17 to 22 in hopes of pressuring the government and factories to raise the sector’s monthly minimum wage from $100 to $160. They also want the courts to release 21 unionists and workers arrested during the last round of wage strikes that ended in January.

By Monday morning, however, all factories were back up and running and most of their workers were back at their stations.
Outside her factory on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street, Khorn Ya said about 80 percent of her 500 or so coworkers were back Monday, not wanting to miss out on a day’s pay.

“If the workers don’t go back to work, we will have our salaries cut, so we have to go to work,” she said.
Chhum Vet, who works at another garment factory along Veng Sreng, said between 80 percent and 90 percent of her coworkers were back Monday.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Strike falls flat as factories fill:

What was supposed to be a widespread garment protest fell flat yesterday, as most workers returned to their posts, days ahead of the end of a planned weeklong stay-at-home strike.

A program officer at the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) said no workers took part in the strike, while C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn said employees at “more than 10” factories were on strike yesterday, but admitted that the majority of workers had returned to work.

“More [employees] went to work, but some did not,” said Thorn, who earlier yesterday claimed that up to 90 per cent of the garment sector did not work on April 17, the strike’s first day.

Most of Cambodia’s factories remained closed after Khmer New Year until Monday, making yesterday the litmus test for workers’ support of the strike, several industry observers said last week.
read more.
PPP new

* BetterFactories Media Updates 19-22 April 2014, UN concerned about detainees’ presence at trials:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-04-21 Iffy factory supplying LA’s finest
2014-04-21 Judiciary laws ready
2014-04-22 Clock ticks on C.CAWDU bail bid
2014-04-22 Failing to sew up support
2014-04-22 Strike falls flat as factories fill
2014-04-22 Thousands continue their strike

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:

2014-04-19-20 Nationwide garment factory strike sputters into second day
2014-04-21 2500 workers in Bavet SEZ go on strike
2014-04-21 What hasn’t changed since the Bangladesh factory collapse
2014-04-22 Hundreds rally to support union leader
2014-04-22 Stay-at-home strike a bust as workers
2014-04-22 UN concerned about detainees’ presence at trials
2014-04-22 Unrest among disabled security guards at SL Garment Factory

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

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* Wage-setting meet up in air:

20140423 PPP
A garment factory worker holds a placard during a protest that saw Russian Boulevard blockaded by razor wire and riot police in Phnom Penh in December. Photo by Vireak Mai.

Exactly who will participate in a workshop to set the minimum wage in the garment sector with the Ministry of Labour this week remained unclear yesterday, with some key figures saying they had not yet been invited.

During the workshop, to be held on Thursday and Friday, the ministry, with technical assistance from the International Labour Organization, will begin discussions with union, NGO and industry leaders about setting a mechanism to calculate a fair minimum wage for garment industry workers, a Ministry of Labour letter, signed by secretary of state Oum Mean, says.

“I cannot say what I expect of the workshop, since the minimum-wage-setting process will not finish until the end of this year,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, after being invited to the event.
“I think the workshop is just the first step.”

As of yesterday, Ath Thorn, president of Cambodia’s largest independent garment union, the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), had not received an invitation.
“I expect to be invited, but until now I did not receive an invitation,” Thorn said.

Dave Welsh, country manager for labour rights group Solidarity Center, also remained unsure whether the meeting would go forward, having not received an invitation or heard about the event in weeks.

Noting that the court suddenly pushed the trial of 23 people arrested during January strike demonstrations from last Friday to April 25, Welsh said he believed it possible this event could also be delayed.
read more.
PPP new

* Strikes still on in some provinces:

Unrest in the garment sector spread yesterday, as hundreds of workers from Kandal province demonstrated outside their factory.

The 700 workers at Unity Fashion factory walked off the job after managers said they would dock wages of workers who did not show up on April 17, the first day after Khmer New Year, said Ry Sithinet, a Free Trade Union officer.

Striking that began on Saturday continued yesterday at three factories in Svay Rieng province’s Tai Seng Special Economic Zone, said Meas Sokna, the local Collective Union of Movement of Workers officer.
read more.
PPP new

* Isolated Protests Emerge in Wake of Failed Garment Strike:

A day after union leaders conceded that a nationwide stay-at-home strike in the garment sector had failed, fresh strikes raged in Svay Rieng, Kandal and Kompong Speu provinces, with workers claiming bosses reneged on agreements for extra Khmer New Year vacation days.

Striking staff swelled to 10,000 at Svay Rieng’s Bavet City special economic zone, according to union leaders, while hundreds refused to work in Kandal and Kompong Speu provinces.

“The workers are still striking in Svay Rieng because the authorities have not made any effort to solve the problem,” said Pav Sina, head of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

The strike in the SEZ began when factory bosses announced that staff who did not return to work after the Khmer New Year—from April 14 to 16—would be docked pay for their absence. Unions had called for the stay-at-home strike to start on April 17.

“The authorities only threaten activists,” Mr. Sina said, adding that unionists had received visits from police, warning them against “taking part in the opposition strikes or they will face problems.”

At the Unity Fashion Garment and Knitting Factory in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district, workers claim they worked overtime in the lead-up to the new year, with a promise from bosses that they could extend their holiday through April 17.

Vuy Idie, a 20-year-old worker at Unity, said between 400 and 500 staff had been on strike since Friday, when they were told that they would not be paid for April 17. They claim that they worked two hours overtime on April 10 and 11 in exchange for the extra day.

“We request that the factory does not cut our salary for April 17, and we demand $12 per month for lunch and travel costs,” Ms. Idie said, adding that the Kandal provincial labor department had promised to solve the dispute today.

At the Victco Hand Bag factory in Kompong Speu’s Samroang Tong district, workers say that, upon going to work on Friday, they were told by factory managers to go home because there were no food vendors open near the factory, leaving them unfit to work.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Remaining “Free the 23” detainees moved to Phnom Penh in preparation for Friday hearing:

Early this morning, the 21 men detained in Kampong Cham province’s CC3 prison since their arrest during January’s widespread strikes were moved to Phnom Penh and will spend the next two nights in CC1 prison.

The government’s clampdown left at least four people dead.

The 21, plus two others who were earlier granted bail, will be tried on Friday, April 25, at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in three separate trials. On the same day, a fourth trial will be held for two men arrested during unrest that followed the SL garment factory strike last November during which one street vendor was killed. One of the two is currently detained in CC1 prison whilst the other was previously released on bail.

LICADHO will be live streaming all four trials on Friday, and coverage will begin tomorrow afternoon.
read more.
licadho

* BetterFactories Media Updates 23 April 2014, Wage-setting meet up in air:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-04-23 Wage-setting meet up in air
2014-04-23 Strikes still on in some provinces

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-04-23 Exports increase 12.8 percent in first quarter
2014-04-23 Harsh restrictions imposed on union leader

* to read in the printed edition Rasmei Kampuchea Daily (Khmer):
2014-04-23 Taiwanese firm to register in Cambodia Stock Exchange

* to read in the printed edition  Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2014-04-23 Nearly 6000 workers continue strike in Bavet

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

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* As Protesters Prepare for Court, No Justice for Dead:

20140424 CD cam-photo
A supporter lights incense Wednesday in front of Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh, where 21 garment workers and labor activists were transferred ahead of their trials on Friday. (Siv Channa)

SAMBO MEAS VILLAGE, Kompong Speu province – As military police with AK-47s descended on protesting garment workers during their nationwide strike on January 3, Sam Ravy, a manager at one of the many factories along Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street, was on the phone with his mother-in-law.

Sam Ravy, who spoke Chinese and English as well as Khmer, earned double the $160 basic monthly salary being demanded by the strikers, but he attended the protest in Pur Senchey district to show solidarity with his workers.

“He had called and said ‘Hello mother, is my wife on the way to Phnom Penh with our child?’ I heard the sound of shooting, and I asked him where he was,” his mother-in-law, Long Saran, recalled Wednesday. She said Sam Ravy had dismissed her concerns in their morning phone call.

“He told me he was with the other protesters. Then his phone went quiet…. At 2 p.m. someone called us and told us to pick up the body,” she said.
Sam Ravy, 25, was one of at least five protesters killed by the military police’s AK-47 fire during the successful effort to put down the nationwide strike, which had dovetailed with mass protests by the political opposition.

On Friday, 13 of the strikers who were beaten and arrested during the protest on Veng Sreng will appear alongside 12 others before the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on charges of intentional destruction of property under aggravating circumstances.

Their property damage trial, which comes after almost four months of secretive incarceration in a notorious high-security prison on the Vietnamese border in Kompong Cham province, will be the government’s first substantial effort to take action over January 3.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Accused 21 brought to capital:

A group of 21 detainees who have been held at Kampong Cham’s remote CC3 prison since they were arrested during garment worker protests in early January were transported to the capital yesterday morning ahead of their hearings at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday, dampening fears they would not be able to attend their own trials.

Kea Sovanna, director of the CC3 prison, said he had received an order from the director of the prisons department at the Ministry of Interior to bring all the detainees to Phnom Penh yesterday, where they would be held at Prey Sar prison.

“I do not know if they will be sent back [to CC3],” he said, adding it would depend on the court’s decision.

Twenty-three people in total were arrested on January 2 and 3 as workers calling for a higher minimum wage clashed with authorities outside the Yakjin garment factory and the Canadia Industrial Park. All of the detainees have been charged with aggravated intentional violence and aggravated intentional property destruction.
read more.
PPP new

* 21 Strike Detainees Transferred to Prey Sar Prison Ahead of Trial:

Twenty-one labor activists and garment workers were on Wednesday transferred from Kompong Cham province’s Correctional Center 3 to Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh as the municipal court prepares to try them over their role in garment strikes three months ago.

CC3 director Kea Sovanna said the 21 were removed from the remote prison—in which the detainees have been held without bail since January 2 and 3—early Wednesday and transported to Prey Sar prison’s Correctional Center 1.

“We have transported 21 detainees through vehicles from the general department of prisons at 6 a.m. to Phnom Penh so they could attend a hearing,” he said.

The transfer came a day after the head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia expressed concern that the detainees may not be taken to their trials.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* 23 arrested during violent clashes to appear at court this week:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court will hear separate cases of 23 detained protesters on April 25.

The 23, were arrested during violent crackdown by government forces on Veng Sreng Stree and at a Korean-owned Yakjin factory on outskirt of capital on January 2-3.
Currently two of the 23 detainees have been released on bail.

The 21 detainees including prominent human rights defender Vorn Pov, President of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association were already transferred from Tropang Thlong prison in Kampong Cham province to Prey Sar prison on April 23, awaiting the hearings, according to lawyer of the detainees.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodia: End the prosecution of 23 workers and human rights defenders:

The Cambodian government must drop all charges on the 23 garment workers and human rights defenders arrested during the 2-3 January brutal suppression of demonstrators in Phnom Penh which resulted in at least four people killed and dozens injured, FIDH and its member organizations Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) said today.

The trial of the 23 is set to begin at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 25 April.

Cambodia’s judiciary must end this baseless prosecution of garment workers and human rights defenders who have been severely beaten, arbitrarily arrested, and detained for several months for peacefully demonstrating to demand an adequate minimum wage,” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.On January 2-3, security forces arrested 23 people during a violent suppression of striking garment workers at two separate locations in Phnom Penh. Workers were demanding that the government increase the monthly minimum wage for garment and footwear workers from US$100 to US$160.Among those detained were: Vorn Pov, President of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDEA) IDEA; Theng Savuen, Coordinator of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC); and Chan Puthisak, a human rights defender from the Boeung Kak Lake community. They were all charged with committing acts of violence and causing damage with aggravating circumstances.At least one of those detained is in need of urgent medical treatment. Despite suffering from serious kidney ailments, Vorn Pov was denied bail on four occasions between 13 January and 4 April. He and 20 other protestors were detained in the remote Correctional Center 3 (CC3) prison in Kampong Cham Province. On 8 February, Bou Sarith and Yon Sok Chea, two of the 23 protestors, were released on bail from CC3 and Kampong Cham prison respectively.
read more.
fidh

 

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* Factories Mostly Skip Minimum Wage Meeting:

Government officials and union representatives met behind closed doors Thursday to start hashing out a better way to set the minimum wage for the country’s all-important but troubled garment sector at a workshop brokered by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

But what was supposed to be a start of frank, three-party discussions between the government, unions and factory owners was more of a bilateral affair with scant participation from manufacturers.

Amid the many government officials and union members in the room was only one representative from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents the bulk of the 500-plus exporting garment factories in the country. An advisor to the Ministry of Labor said their light presence threatened to scupper the reform efforts.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Trial for 23 finally under way:

The long-awaited trial of the 23 men arrested during strike demonstrations in early January began this morning at 8 am at Phnom Penh Municipal Court and is proceeding into the afternoon.

Before the trial began, police had already blocked off the street in front of the court on Monireth Boulevard across from Olympic Stadium.

As the detainees sat in holding rooms before the trial started, rights workers, observers and others negotiated with police outside the court for tickets allowing them into one of three courtrooms where the trials are being held.

Naly Pilorge, the head of rights group Licadho, which is providing legal representation to some of the accused, said lawyers have registered 52 witnesses that could speak in defence of those on trial, who were all arrested on January 2 and January 3 in Phnom Penh during a nationwide garment strike that ultimately led to the shooting deaths of at least four garment workers.

Charges in the cases include aggravated intentional violence and aggravated intentional property destruction.
read more.
PPP new

* Concerns ahead of trial for 23:

20140425 PP
Seven men detained by military police lie on the ground with their hands bound at the scene of deadly clashes on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard in January.

One the eve of the trial of 23 people arrested during a garment strike in January, their supporters yesterday expressed concern that politics, rather than the facts, may determine the verdict.

Nearly four months after their arrests at protests on January 2 and 3 – the day that authorities killed at least four people when they fired automatic rifles into crowds on Veng Sreng Boulevard – all 23 will stand trial today.

“The [largest] concern for us is that the ruling party will keep them as political hostages,” said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), which is providing legal representation for some defendants. “If the court really depends . . . on the law, the charges against the 23 should be dropped.”

Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged a large majority of detainees with intentional violence and damage, crimes that carry a maximum of five years in prison and $2,500 in fines. The court later reduced charges against three suspects – including Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) president Vorn Pov – to charges carrying a maximum of two years.
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodian court starts trials of 21 labor activists arrested in January clashes:

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday began trials of 21 labor activists and garment workers, who were detained following violent protests three months ago.

The detainees, who are accused of intentionally causing violence and destroying property, were brought to courtrooms under tight security as dozens of union activists and relatives gathered outside the court to demand the detainees’ release.

Government critic Von Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, is among the detainees.

The trials have been divided into four cases, corresponding to locations where they were apprehended: two in the Canadia Industrial Park, one at the Stung Meanchey bridge, and one at the Yak Jing garment factory.

Twenty-three people were arrested during the clashes between police and protesters on Jan. 2 and 3 on the outskirts of capital Phnom Penh when they staged violent protests to demand a higher minimum wage of 160 US dollars for the garment sector, but two of them were later freed on bail.
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GLOBALTIMES

* Trial begins in Phnom Penh for Cambodian workers seeking better wages:

Trial has begun in Cambodia for 23 people charged with violence and property damage during a January protest by garment workers in which police shot at least four dead. Rights groups have criticized the prosecutions.

Twenty-three Cambodian activists and workers arrested during a deadly crackdown on a garment industry strike in January went on trial Friday despite international appeals for their release. During the protests in January (pictured), police opened fire on textile workers calling for a monthly minimum wage of $160 (115 euros), killing at least four civilians.

“The Cambodian government must drop all charges on the 23 garment workers and human rights defenders arrested during the 2-3 January brutal suppression of demonstrators in Phnom Penh,” the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights wrote in a statement this week.

According to rights groups, the 23 defendants – most detained for months now without bail – could face up to five years’ imprisonment on charges including committing intentional violence. On Friday, Kong Athit, of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, denounced what he described as “politically-motivated charges” against the defendants.
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DW

Trials for 23 Cambodian labor activists adjourned to May 6:

The trials of the 23 labor activists and garment workers, who were arrested during January violent protests, were adjourned to May 6 after a five-hour hearing on Friday.

“The court decides to adjourn the trials to May 6 in order to give more time to the defendants to recall the activities they had committed during those clashes,” Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s Judge Suos Sam Ath said. “The adjournment is also to give more time to the court to further look into the case.”

The 23 detainees, who are accused of intentionally causing violence and destroying property, were brought to courtrooms under tight security on Friday morning as hundreds of union activists and relatives gathered outside the court to demand the detainees’ release.

Government critic Von Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, is among the detainees.

The trials have been divided into four cases, corresponding to locations where they were apprehended: two in the Canadia Industrial Park, one at the Stung Meanchey bridge, and one at the Yak Jing garment factory.
read more.
GLOBALTIMES

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* Mass Trials of Garment Protesters Commence:

20140426 CD
Vorn Pao, center, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, yells to journalists as he and other defendants are driven away from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday. He and 22 others were tried for their roles in garment strikes that turned violent in January. (Siv Channa)

Trials of 25 unionists, garment workers, and men arrested at protests began at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday as crowds of supporters scuffled with police on the heavily barricaded road outside.

The hearings, which were carried out in three separate courtrooms, opened after a four-month wait behind bars for 21 of the men, who stand accused, along with two others previously bailed, of causing violence and damaging property during garment strikes in two factory districts on January 2 and 3. At least five people were shot dead and numerous injured by the authorities during those protests.

Two teenagers were also tried on charges of intentional violence for their roles in a November 12 clash near Stung Meanchey bridge between police and protesting SL Garment Factory workers, when the authorities also shot dead a bystander.

In Courtroom 1, 10 defendants rounded up and beaten outside the South Korean-owned Yakjin factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on January 2 had their case heard by Presiding Judge Keo Mony. Suspects were brought in in pairs and questioned one by one, with only four of the ten having a chance to address the court Friday.

Among the six who didn’t have the opportunity to answer questions was Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association union of tuk-tuk drivers and motodops, who has become a symbol of workers’ rights since his detention in the remote Correctional Center 3 prison in Kompong Cham province in January.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia court opens massive trial of protesters amid heavy security:

Amid a heavy security presence that saw even witnesses being barred from entry, Phnom Penh Municipal Court today began proceedings against nearly two dozen people accused of property damage and intentional violence during January’s bloody protests.

The case against 23 unionists, workers, protesters and bystanders—including several high-profile activists—who were rounded up over the course of two days in early January has come under heavy criticism by rights groups who term the case political and the charges unfounded. The court also simultaneously tried two other individuals who were arrested during November clashes that saw the death of one bystander and at least seven injuries.

Garment worker protests calling for a higher minimum wage took a violent turn in early January when an elite army unit was sent to break up rallies outside the Yakjin factory on January 2. A day later, military police and protesters clashed on nearby Veng Sreng street, where officers opened fire—killing at least five and wounding scores.

The government has steadfastly maintained that such crackdowns were necessary to staunch violent uprisings and has deemed no officials guilty for the deaths. But the 10 arrested at Yakjin and 13 arrested the following day have been shown little leniency thus far.
Many were seriously wounded after being beaten by police and all were inexplicably remanded far from Phnom Penh to a notorious prison on the Vietnamese border. After the arrests, their whereabouts were hidden from lawyers and family members for nearly a week.

Spread out over three courtrooms, the sprawling case—the biggest human rights-related trial in modern Cambodian history—aimed to assess the guilt of 25 individuals arrested in three different incidents.

But in the courtrooms, it quickly became clear that the complexities of such a case would be overshadowed by suggestions of a pre-determined outcome.
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ucanews

* Union Leader Appeals Court Orders Restricting His Activities:

Ath Thorn, the president of the country’s largest independent labor union, said Friday that he has appealed court orders restricting his unionizing activity and is seeking support from international labor organizations as he faces charges of incitement.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court has ordered Mr. Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, to pay a $25,000 bail in order to avoid pre-trial detention over charges that he incited violence during a September 20 protest at the SL Garment Factory in Phnom Penh. 

On Tuesday, the court issued an injunction order telling Mr. Thorn to stay away from SL factory workers and refrain from joining pubic gatherings.

“We appealed to the Court of Appeal this past week, and we also sent a letter of complaint to international unions and governments for them to intervene,” said Mr. Thorn.

“We request to cancel the court’s decision because we did not commit the crime like the court charges.”
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Trumped-up charges and restrictions against Cambodian union leader must be dropped at once:

IndustriALL Global Union is calling on the Cambodian government to immediately drop trumped-up charges and end restrictions against Ath Thorn, President of IndustriALL affiliate C.CAWDU.

The garment union boss is facing criminal charges, filed by SL Garment Processing Ltd., for incitement to commit a felony. He has now been placed under a court order that prohibits him from meeting SL Garment workers and people in a public gathering that could “damage public order”.

The court is also demanding that Ath Thorn pay bail of US$ 25,000 by the beginning of May.

IndustriALL general secretary, Jyrki Raina, said:
“Not only are the charges against Ath Thorn groundless, but the restrictions placed upon him are a blatant violation of his right to freedom of association, and the demand for bail unjust. We urge the Cambodian authorities to drop the charges and restrictions immediately.”

Ath Thorn, who is appealing the bail conditions, has been charged with inciting violence at a protest at the SL Garment factory in September last year, despite no evidence against him.
Moreover, in a settlement witnessed and signed by Sat Sakmut, Deputy Secretary of State of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training in December 2013, C.CAWDU and SL Garment factory agreed that no further legal charges would be filed between either party.

Ath Thorn is one of the most influential non-government union leaders in the country and a prominent trade union campaigner for a raise in the minimum wage and the release of 21 prisoners detained since demonstrations in January.

IndustriALL has written to the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, calling on his government to end all legal cases connected with the SL Garment conflict and expressing concern that the case against Ath Thorn may be aimed at frustrating the unions’ legitimate efforts to advocate for a higher minimum wage and for the release of the 21 prisoners.
read more.
Home

* GMAC Boycotts Workshop on Minimum Wages:

A would-be tripartite workshop intended to improve the garment sector’s minimum wage setting process closed Friday, with the industry’s most influential player, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), boycotting the talks at Phnom Penh Hotel.

The two-day workshop would have been the first meeting between the strife-torn garment industry’s three factions—unions, employers and the government—since strikes in December and January ended in violence after the military police shot dead at least five protesters.

Unions and the Labor Ministry were heavily represented at the talks in Phnom Penh, but GMAC decided to stay away, contrary to government reports that one representative was present Thursday.

“I want to make it very clear that GMAC did not engage in these talks,” said Ken Loo, secretary-general of GMAC, which represents about 500 of the country’s exporting factories.

Mr. Loo said that he and other key GMAC personnel were out of town this week and that he did not want to send lower-ranking staff to a meeting that he claims had no clear agenda.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* Anger grows as ‘23’ trial begins:

20140428 PPP 6-23_detained
District security personnel outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday carry an activist away from a demonstration in support of the 23 people detained during January’s garment strikes. Photo by Vireak Mai.

Family members of some of the 23 men sent to trial on Friday over their alleged role in January garment protests that turned violent said yesterday that the court was not giving their loved ones the chance to defend themselves and was harming their well-being further by delaying their trial.

The trial for the group of workers, unionists and activists was adjourned until May 6 after Phnom Penh municipal judge Keo Mony said the court needed more time to study the evidence.

“These people [are accused of] having incited people to protest against garment factories and causing serious turmoil in our society,” he said.

Prak Sovannary, wife of Vorn Pov, the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association president who is one of those on trial, said her husband was not questioned.

“My husband and others are being detained at Prey Sar prison while they wait for bail hearings at the Supreme Court [on May 2],” she said. “But the [trial] has been delayed so long. Why doesn’t the judge resume [today]?”
read  & see more. (video report).
PPP new

* Bavet protest: No-strike bonus offer backfires:

A union-estimated 20,000 garment workers in Svay Rieng province are now on strike after learning one factory in their industrial zone distributed a bonus to workers for not protesting in mass garment sector demonstrations during the first week of January.

Workers from about 30 factories in the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in Svay Rieng’s Bavet town have joined the protest, which began following Khmer New Year, after one company, A+J Factory, gave its worker a $50 no-strike bonus, the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) claimed.
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PPP new

* Bavet City Garment Strikes Gain Momentum:

Trade unions may have failed to get a stay-at-home strike for higher wages off the ground after the Khmer New Year earlier this month. But a strike for bonus pay is picking up steam in Svay Rieng Province, where some 20,000 garment workers protested at a pair of Bavet City special economic zones on Saturday.

A frustrated Garment Manufacturers Association in Cam­bodia (GMAC) put out a statement on Friday rebuking the workers and the government alike, urging local authorities to do more before the protests get out of hand.

The Bavet City strikes got started at a few factories after the new year holiday when some workers grew envious of their colleagues at other local factories who had just been paid a one-time, $50 bonus for agreeing not to strike over the past three months. Though most factories had not offered their workers the same deal, more and more workers at the Manhattan and Tai Seng Bavet special economic zones are insisting on it.

“We will protest until the factory gives us $50,” said Dy, a worker at the BK factory who joined Saturday’s strikes and gave only his first name for fear of retaliation from his bosses.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia’s garment manufacturers calls on gov’t to curb illegal strikes:

The Garment Manufacturers Associations in Cambodia (GMAC) on Sunday urged the government to curb outlawed garment strikes that have occurred this week at Special Economic Zones in eastern Bavet City, which are expected to continue next week.

“GMAC is disappointed that the government and local authorities let such illegal action happen and have no effective measures to prevent it,” GMAC said in a statement.

“GMAC envisages that this outlawed action is evolving to violence because strikers had hurled stones at factories, threatened other workers not to work, and destroyed factories’ properties,” it said.

It said the strikes will spread to other industrial zones if there are no preventive measures.

“We’d like to appeal to the Ministry of Labor and local authorities to implement their roles in curbing these illegal strikes immediately in order to ensure security and safety for investors and workers who wish to work,” the statement.
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CHINAORG

* City rejects May Day location:

Phnom Penh municipal authorities has rejected a request from more than 10 unions to hold an International Labour Day event at Freedom Park on May 1, but the unionists have said that will not stop them from marking the occasion.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said yesterday that authorities would not allow the unions to hold the event at Freedom Park – the capital’s designated protest space, which has been off limits to demonstrators since the government simultaneously cracked down on garment sector and opposition party protests in early January. He appealed to the groups to use their own offices instead.

“We do not agree with their request to celebrate International Labour Day at Freedom Park, because there are many organisations and institutes that want to use that place as well that we have refused,” Dimanche said, adding that the city had conveyed that message to unions in a meeting on Thursday.
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* 10,000 Workers Still Striking for Bonus Pay:

At least 10,000 garment workers in Svay Rieng province re­sumed their strike for extra bonus pay yesterday following the weekend holiday, but there was little sign that any more factories would give in to their demands.

The strike began with just a few Bavet City factories after the Khmer New Year holidays, when some garment workers grew en­vious of colleagues at another factory who had just been paid a one-time, $50 bonus for having agreed to not strike during the previous three months. Though other factories had not offered the same deal, more and more workers have continued to join the pro­tests for their own $50 bonus.

One factory, Smart Tech, caved in to its workers on Saturday.

“We protest to demand $50 be­cause the workers at the other two factories got it for not striking,” said Sok Khemara, a Best Way factory worker who joined the protests yesterday.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Strike closes most Bavet factories:

All but four garment factories in Svay Rieng province were closed yesterday, as a strike of thousands of workers there continued into its second week, a labour union official said.

The strike, estimated to involve about 20,000 people across the province’s Tai Seng and Manhattan special economic zones, began immediately after Khmer New Year, said Kat Lot, vice president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW).

Workers began leaving their posts in protest, when word of a $50 bonus received by employees at A&J factory spurred workers at other factories who did not receive a bonus.

“Thousands of workers in two special economic zones in Svay Rieng Province’s Bavet town continued protesting today, since their demands have been refused,” Lot said yesterday.

Members of CUMW and non-unionised workers are among the strikers.

In a statement released on its website yesterday, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia decried inaction by the Ministry of Labour and local authorities in putting a stop to workers’ demonstrations, which, the group says, are tantamount to extortion.

“Because those factories refused to give them this money, [CUMW] led the workers to do the violent demonstration by throwing the rocks at the factories, threatening other workers not to return to work and destroying the factories’ properties,” the statement says. “It is so disappointing that there seems to be no action from the authorities to stop this activity.”
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PPP new

* Garment strikes in Cambodia’s Bavet City continue Monday:

Thousands of garment workers at some 30 factories in two special economic zones in Bavet City of Svay Rieng province continued striking Monday to demand a 50 U. S. dollars bonus, a trade union leader said.

“Workers at those factories go on strikes Monday to demand the 50 U.S. dollars bonus pay,”said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, which is one of the eight opposition-aligned unions that lead the strikes. “They will protest until factories give them the bonus.”

Workers at the Manhattan and Tai Seng special economic zones have staged strikes since last week to demand the 50 U.S. dollars that they claimed that factories had promised to give them when they did not join a post-New Year strike, which was organized by the opposition-aligned trade unions in mid-April.

However, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia ( GMAC) denied that factories had made such promise and accused the opposition-aligned trade unions of fabricating this information after they failed to attract workers for their post-New Year wage demanding strike.
read more. & to read.
XINHUAnet GLOBALTIMES

* Cambodian garment workers strike over $50 bonus:

Around 20,000 Cambodian garment workers have joined a strike to demand a $50 bonus for shunning walkouts over the last three months, a union official said Monday, in the latest labour dispute to rattle the kingdom’s lucrative but troubled garment sector.

Workers at around 30 factories in two special economic zones near the Vietnamese border want the bonus after a union said that two factories had rewarded employees for not participating in the strikes, which routinely cripple the industry.

“Most of the factories have denied the demand,” Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, told AFP.
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* Bavet factories close as protest continues:

20140430 PPP bavet_strikes
Police and security guards man a blockade at the entrance to Bavet town’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone during a garment worker strike yesterday in Svay Rieng province. Photo by Pha Lina.

Entire special economic zones (SEZs) in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town were closed yesterday after striking workers broke factory and car windows earlier this week.

Security guards and police blocked factory gates from workers as local authorities kept strikers from gathering at their employers, which they began protesting against in mid-April after Khmer New Year.

“Some workers are forcing others who want to work to join the strike,” Orn Bandol, a 19-year-old worker at Kingmaker Footwear in the Manhattan economic zone, said in front of his Bavet town home yesterday morning. “If we do not, they will throw rocks at us or destroy factory property.”

Workers at the Shandong Sunshell SEZ said security guards blocked all workers from entering, and security staff at Manhattan SEZ told Post reporters that all of the factories there were closed. Gates at the vast majority of factories at Tai Seng SEZ were closed before 7:30am, the beginning of the day for most factories.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers – which represents many of the striking workers – estimated that 30,000 were on strike as of yesterday, though only a couple of hundred showed up outside the gates of factories in the three economic zones. Strike activity petered out by mid-morning.
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PPP new

* Uneasy Calm In Bavet as Factories Ordered Shut:

The government has ordered all factories here to shut down until Thursday at the earliest in a bid to keep escalating strikes from spiraling out of control and spreading nationwide.

“[Provincial] Governor Chieng Am said in a meeting yesterday [Monday] that we should tell the factories they should close for a few days because the strike is getting bigger and bigger, but he did not say for how many days,” said In Visoth, the governor’s chief of administration.
“The government is worried the strike could spread if we do not take action soon,” he said.

The strikes started off small after the Khmer New Year holiday earlier this month, when some workers heard that colleagues at another factory had been paid a one-time $50 bonus for having not gone on strike over the past few months and decided to demand the same deal for themselves.
The strikers gradually rallied more workers to their case and brought work to a standstill on Monday at more than 30 Bavet factories employing some 30,000 workers.
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* Arrest as Bavet strike goes on:

20140501 PPP Bavet-Strike
Striking garment factory workers block a road near the Tai Seng Bavet special economic zone last week in Svay Rieng province. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Police on Tuesday made their first arrest over a mass garment strike that has temporarily shut down entire special economic zones (SEZs) in Svay Rieng province.

A day after an allegedly violent demonstration at the Manhattan SEZ, Chan Sarin, a 21-year-old employee at the economic zone’s Best Way factory, was arrested on property destruction charges, provincial police said.

“He destroyed the car of a Chinese man intentionally, and was charged with destroying property,” said To Sithorn, Chantrea district’s police chief.
Sarin’s arrest comes amid a mass strike in Bavet town that began after factories reopened after the Khmer New Year break. Striking workers demand a one-time $50 bonus.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) – which represents many employees striking in Bavet – estimated some 30,000 workers are striking.
All factories in the Manhattan SEZ and Shandong Sunshell SEZ have been closed since Tuesday, and the vast majority of factories at Tai Seng SEZ are also closed.
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PPP new

* Police Make Arrest, File Complaints in Bavet Strike:

Police in Svay Rieng province on Tuesday arrested a garment worker for allegedly breaking a car window during a strike that turned violent in Bavet City the day before, and have filed complaints to the provincial court against two union representatives accused of defamation.

The arrest and legal action come amid a government-ordered shutdown of all Bavet City factories—scheduled to end today—meant to quell the strike and prevent it from spreading across the country.

Workers began the strike at a few factories after the Khmer New Year holidays earlier this month when they heard that another factory had recently given their employees a one-time $50 bonus for not striking in prior months and decided to demand the same deal. The strike gradually spread to most of the city’s 30-plus factories and peaked on Monday—the day before the government-ordered shutdown—with some workers throwing rocks at factory buildings and breaking several windows.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Violence as demonstration ban defied:

20140501 PPP May Day
May Day demonstrators march south along Sothearos Boulevard this morning in Chamkarmon district after they were stopped from demonstrating in front of Phnom Penh’s National Assembly by police. Photo by Scott Howes.

A peaceful rally near a heavily barricaded Freedom Park this morning was attacked by security forces wielding sticks and electric batons as protesters gathered to mark International Labour Day.

At least one bystander was badly beaten and several others received minor injuries as security forces, seemingly at random, picked out people on the street.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Freedom Park in the early morning and were joined by a group of about 200 workers who had been moved on from outside the National Assembly by security forces and police.

Yorm Sothea, a worker protesting at Naga Bridge near Freedom Park, said she had taken to the streets to call on the government to lift the ban on gatherings and to improve the lot of workers.

“We want the government to answer about the security presence and to raise our wages. Right now, the current situation is a violation of our rights, because we are forced to do other jobs to support our families,” she said.
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PPP new

* On Labor Day, Peaceful Protests Met With Violence:

A peaceful Labor Day demonstration of workers calling for better living conditions and independent courts was violently dispersed Thursday morning by district security guards, municipal police and men in plain clothes, who beat protesters, journalists and bystanders with batons, wooden sticks and crude metal poles.

Shortly after 9 a.m., opposition leaders Sam Rainsy, Kem Sokha and Mu Sochua addressed about 700 workers and opposition supporters who had gathered near the Naga Bridge on Norodom Boulevard. After speaking for about 20 minutes, the CNRP group departed down Russian Boulevard.

As the crowd thinned out between the bridge and nearby Wat Phnom, truncheon-wielding security guards set upon the crowd, indiscriminately beating protesters, passersby on motorbikes and journalists filming the violence. The remaining crowd fled to surrounding gardens.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for local rights group Licadho, said that more than 100 Daun Penh district security guards were ordered to attack the protesters.

“I saw with my own eyes five people get beat up and injured,” he said. “But I think that many more people got injured than this number, because they were beating people in different places and at least 100 security guards were involved.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* International Workers’ Day 2014:

Today’s planned union gatherings in Phnom Penh to mark International Workers’ Day look set to face severe restrictions by authorities
a Live Stream Report.
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licadho

20140501 CLEC
Anti-protester forces trying to block the workers from celebrating May 1, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, , CLEC

* Unions Plan to Defy Protest Ban, Hold Rally:

Labor union officials on Wednesday forged ahead with plans to rally for International Workers’ Day today, but said they would not be gathering at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park after authorities on Wednesday set up razor wire around the protest square.

Alternate plans to gather in front of the National Assembly have been made and workers are still expected to converge on the capital from the provinces despite the ban, said Ek Sokpheakdey, secretary-general of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union.

The workers will call for an increase in the minimum wage and the release of garment workers and activists detained in January strikes.
“The workers will be there at 8:30 a.m.,” Mr. Sokpheakdey said.

“We will march to the CPP and CNRP offices to hand in our petition to demand that the government release the 21 people and drop all charges against 23 people and to re-discuss a minimum wage of $160.”
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Capital bans marches for Labour Day and beyond:

The stage is set for a potentially violent confrontation today as opposition leaders and union representatives are vowing to carry out planned marches, while government officials and authorities loyal to the ruling party are making it very clear they intend to use force if necessary to contain the groups.

A ban on assembly has been in place at Freedom Park since December. Authorities yesterday, however, upped the ante, blocking all entrances to the park with razor-wire fences and barricades and reinstituting a citywide ban on assembly that authorities say will take effect today, on International Labour Day, and last the entirety of the council election campaign period, which begins on Friday.
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PPP new

* Freedom Park Locked Down Ahead of Labor Day:

With mass demonstrations by the opposition CNRP planned for the next two weeks, and a labor day protest by unions set for Thursday, the government showed off the strength of its security forces Wednesday.

All roads leading to Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park were barricaded by police, and the eastern and western ends of the square were sealed off with razor-wire to prevent a small contingent of opposition supporters, led by lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua, from entering the park.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia bans trade unions from marking May Day at capital’s Freedom Park:

Cambodian authorities on Wednesday refused permission for the 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations to celebrate an International Labor Day event on May 1 at the capital’s Freedom Park.

“The Phnom Penh Municipality does not allow the trade unions and associations to organize this event at Freedom Park (the capital’s designated protest space) or other public places because the Freedom Park is still under the court’s investigation process over violent cases in January,” said a letter signed by Phnom Penh Vice-Governor Khuong Sreng and sent to those trade unions and associations.
read more.
GLOBALTIMES

—-UPDATE 18.00h loc.time—-

* Bystander savagely beaten:

A peaceful rally near a heavily barricaded Freedom Park this morning was attacked by security forces wielding sticks and electric batons as protesters gathered to mark International Labour Day.

At least one bystander was badly beaten and several others received minor injuries as security forces, seemingly at random, picked out people on the street.

Hundreds of protesters gathered at Freedom Park in the early morning and were joined by a group of about 200 workers who had been moved on from outside the National Assembly by security forces and police.

Yorm Sothea, a worker protesting at Naga Bridge near Freedom Park, said she had taken to the streets to call on the government to lift the ban on gatherings and to improve the lot of workers.

“We want the government to answer about the security presence and to raise our wages. Right now, the current situation is a violation of our rights, because we are forced to do other jobs to support our families,” she said.
read more and see video report.
PPP new

* Remarks by the ILO for May 1st 2014:

Tens of thousands of people in Cambodia and around the region are coming together today to mark May 1st.

Their aspirations and concerns are legitimate and based on unquestionable
universal values.
They firmly and rightly believe that quality of work and the respect for fundamental
principles and rights at work are a source of personal dignity, family stability, peace in the community, and a beacon of credibility for democratic governance. These issues are at the very core of the International Labour Organization’s mandate and are central to its work across the world.

These guiding norms apply to all countries. They are at the basis of the principles and polices enshrined in the ILO’s Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization. This Declaration expresses the contemporary vision of the ILO’s mandate in the era of globalization. It should guide policy action in achieving improved and fair outcomes for all.
Countless men and women around the world continue to work without even the most basic guarantees for their safety and wellbeing. Obvious examples come from the horrific workplace disasters that have claimed hundreds of lives just a year ago in South Asia and other parts of this region.
(…)

In most of Southeast Asia, including in Cambodia there is a growing recognition that tackling these issues is vital to meeting national development goals.
The Rectangular Strategy highlights the importance of improving labour relations to achieve sustained socio-economic development. Strengthening freedom of association and collective bargaining are other vital components of this strategy. Social dialogue and collective negotiations involving trade unions and employers’ organisations can bring significant benefits, not only to workers but also for economic development in general by reducing conflict, supporting fairer income
distribution, reducing inequality and sustaining more robust labour market governance.
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ILO

* Brutal police crackdown on Cambodia May Day rally:

As scores of police wielding electrified truncheons and makeshift clubs ran past her at this morning’s May Day rally, 40-year-old Chan Sovann slipped into a corner, a framed photograph tucked under her arm, and tried to remain inconspicuous.

At least two people were badly beaten, and several others—including both local and foreign journalists—were also attacked after authorities chased down protesters and passers-by, without provocation, at a rally to mark International Workers Day.

But for Sovann, a veteran garment factory worker, such violence was nothing new.
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ucanews

* CCHR condemns prolonged ban on public assembly:

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) strongly condemned the reiteration of the ban on assemblies in Phnom Penh, urging security forces to refrain from using excessive violence against protesters.

The condemnation was made ahead of the start of the council election campaign period from 2-16 May, and the celebration of International Labor Day.

Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong issued announcement on April 29, banning all public rallies starting from May 1, 2014  after the unionists and opposition sought permission to hold public assemblies at the Freedom Park.

“Instead of respecting the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, the Royal Government of Cambodia’s decision to refuse civil society groups and the opposition to hold demonstration in Freedom Park on Labor Day and ahead of the upcoming election is a grave violation of these rights,” CCHR’s President Chak Sopheap said in a statement issued on April 30.
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CAMHERALD CCHR

* May Day rallies demand reform; 5 hurt in Cambodia:

May Day demonstrators denounced low wages and called for better treatment of workers during rallies Thursday that turned violent in Cambodia and in Turkey, where police tried to enforce a ban on public protests.

Security forces in Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square pushed back demonstrators with water cannons and tear gas. Protesters retaliated by throwing objects at police.

In Phnom Pehn, civilian auxiliary police, armed with clubs and often used by the government to break up protests, turned on the demonstrators after opposition leaders spoke to the crowd of nearly 1,000. The assaults appeared to be random and limited, and were over in less than an hour.

At least five people were hurt, said Om Sam Ath, an officer of the human rights group Licadho.
read more.
AP

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* Labor Minister Says Solution to Bavet Strike in the Works:

On the sidelines of a government event marking International Labor Day, Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng on Thursday blamed recent strikes in Bavet City on unnamed provocateurs, but said efforts were underway to resolve the dispute.

He also said that a government-ordered shutdown of the 30-plus factories—meant to quell the escalating violence and scheduled to end Thursday—could be prolonged.

In his speech to some 2,000 garment workers on Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island, Mr. Sam Heng said conditions for workers and unions in Cambodia were “better than ever in history” and that the country’s 960 garment factories were now providing jobs for 628,166 people.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Minister urges end to strike:

In his first public acknowledgement of the ongoing mass strike in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town, Cambodia’s labour minister yesterday implored workers to end demonstrations and settle their grievances through arbitration.

After speaking at the Koh Pich Exhibition Center for a government-backed International Labour Day celebration, Ith Sam Heng said his ministry is coordinating talks
between employers and employees in Bavet.

“The employers are trying to find the best way to reopen their factories . . . I asked them to collect employeedemands and other relevant information to bring before the Arbitration Council,” Sam Heng said.

“We will try to get [factories] back to work as soon as possible.”

All factories in the Manhattan and Shandong Sunshell special economic zones (SEZs) have been closed since Tuesday, and the vast majority of factories at the Tai Seng SEZ are also closed.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), has estimated that 30,000 people are holding demonstrations outside factories or not going work.
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* Twenty-One Men Detained After Strikes Seek Bail for Fifth Time:

Union activist Vorn Pao and 20 other workers and activists who have been jailed since the violent suppression of garment protests in early January had their request for bail heard for the fifth time on Friday, this time by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Pao, the president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), is being tried alongside 22 others rounded up and beaten over a two-day period during garment strikes in January. Two of the men were bailed, and a trial against all 23, who are charged with violence and destroying public property, opened on April 25 and was adjourned until May 6.

None of the 21 detained men was present at yesterday’s hearing, during which Mr. Pao’s defense lawyer, Sam Sokong, called on Presiding Judge Khim Pon to bail the union leader, who underwent a kidney operation last year and is in need of medical assistance, because his health is said to have worsened after being beaten.
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* Bavet Factories Reopen After Strike, But Pay Dispute Lingers:

In Svay Rieng province, employees at all but two of Bavet City’s 37 garment and footwear factories were back at work Saturday after a government-ordered shutdown last week, which was prompted by a growing strike over bonus pay.

The strike began at a few factories after the Khmer New Year holidays last month when workers learned that colleagues at another factory had recently been paid a one-time, $50 bonus for having honored an agreement to not strike during the previous few months.

The strike gradually grew and turned violent when workers started pelting some factories with rocks last Monday, at which point the government ordered all the factories in the city to shut down immediately.

Ou Sokhoeun, deputy director of the provincial labor department, said the shutdown lasted only for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, as Thursday was International Labor Day. He added that he met on Friday with representatives from the factories and the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, which has heavy representation in Bavet City, to help them settle the dispute.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Bavet strike ends at all but 2 factories:

Nearly all the factories in special economic zones (SEZs) across Svay Rieng’s Bavet town reopened over the weekend, ending a strike in which workers failed to coax employers into paying them a $50 bonus.

Pol Samphors, a garment worker at the Kingmaker factory in the Manhattan SEZ, said yesterday that management brought the more than 3,000 employees back into the fold by agreeing to pay half-day wages for shifts that went unfilled since April 21, the day they started striking.

“We did not get anything after protesting for more than a week,” she said. It wasn’t immediately clear how many other factories besides Kingmaker struck similar deals to pay employees half-day wages.

Thousands of workers commenced striking in mid-April, after Khmer New Year, when they learned that at least one factory had given workers a $50 bonus for not striking. The strikes quickly expanded, drawing workers from three SEZs in Bavet. One man was charged with property destruction.
read more.
PPP new

* Thousands of Cambodian garment workers end strike over bonus:

Thousands of Cambodian garment workers have gone back to work after striking to demand a $50 bonus in return for shunning walkouts in the kingdom’s lucrative but troubled garment sector, a union leader said Monday.

Some 20,000 workers at around 30 factories near the Vietnamese border went on strike a fortnight ago demanding the bonus after two factories rewarded employees for not participating in recent walkouts, which routinely cripple the industry.

“Most of the workers have resumed their work, and only those at three factories are still on strike on Monday,” Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, told AFP.

He said the factories did not agree to pay the $50 bonus, but reassured workers that they will “find a solution” to the dispute.
read more.
channelnewsasia

*  Military might: Soldiers put end to Veng Sreng strike:

Soldiers used force on Friday to end a strike at a garment factory on Veng Sreng Boulevard, where demands included a lunch bonus of 2,000 riel and an end to forced overtime, workers and union officials said yesterday.

Cheng Sophavy, an officer at the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), said that about 100 employees at Pemir Garment agreed to return to work today after military personnel threatened them at the factory gates on Friday.

“Paramilitary forces from Brigade 70 on Friday came to disperse workers protesting in front of the factory,” Sophavy said. “They did not settle with workers; they deployed paramilitary forces instead. They do so to discourage us and force us back to work.”

Worker representative Chan Saban, 21, said: “We protested without any brute force, so using soldiers to crack down is not right.”
Neither the factory nor the military brigade could be reached for comment.
to read.
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* Trial continues: Workers to gather at court house:

Observers expect the trial of 23 people arrested during early January strike demonstrations will not be completed today, due to the number of witnesses who may testify.

“I think the trial would take more than the time [available today],” Ham Samrith, senior lawyer for the Community Legal Education Center, said yesterday.

More than 80 witnesses could ultimately testify at Phnom Penh Municipal Court during the trial, which began on April 26, Samrith said. Defendants were arrested on January 2 and 3 in front of the Yakjin garment factory and on Veng Sreng Boulevard. Most on trial face sentences of to up to five years in prison.
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PPP new

* Protest Planned for 2nd Day Of Garment Protest Trials:

Some 500 supporters of union leader Vorn Pao and 24 others arrested during a string of garment worker protests since November will rally in front of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday on the second day of their trials, a union official said.

All 25 have been charged with causing or inciting violence or property damage during a trio of garment worker protests for higher wages in November and January.

They had their first, and so far only, hearing on April 25.

Sok Chhun Oeung, vice president of Mr. Pao’s Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association, said supporters of the jailed protesters will turn out at today’s hearing despite a government ban on demonstrations. “We are not afraid of a crackdown by the government’s armed forces,” he said.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Spotlight on Cambodian Government Brutality:

Two court cases may give victims of vicious crackdowns their day in court.

Two high profile court cases are poised to throw a spotlight on Cambodia’s hardline internal security apparatus.

The first is the trial of 23 activists caught up in protests that left five people dead amid a crackdown on striking garment workers. The second is litigation filed by senior opposition figure Mu Sochua against government officials over their continued use of force against protesters trying to occupy a downtown park.

In the foreground sits a man who has never shied from the court of public opinion or the battleground of striking workers and anti-government protesters. Sok Penhvuth, Deputy Governor of Daun Penh District in the heart of the capital, has overseen the deployment of his men, the beating of civilians, and a ruthless suppression of dissent.
read more.
thediplomat_logo

* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day two:

Live Information Stream- Report ;

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licadho

* Phnom Penh court under tight security during questioning 25 protesters:

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court heard Tuesday case of 25 people arrested at violent clashes on Veng Sreng Street, at Yakjin factory and in front of Stung Meanchey pagoda.

The security in front of the court was tightened as anti-riot police were seen deployed. Streets in front of and around the court were blocked with barricades.

Hundreds of protesters were gathering and shouting near the barricades to demand the release of the arrestees including Vorn Pov, President of the Independent and Democracy and Informal Economic Association.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* News Flash: Cambodian trial adjourned:

Disappointment and anger meets postponement of “” trial

The trial of 23 Cambodians who were arrested during living wage strikes in Phnom Penh in January has been postponed for a second time.

The trial that was originally due to begin on April 25, resumed on May 6 only to be adjourned again. The trial is now scheduled to begin on May 20.

Clean Clothes Campaign is disappointed to learn of the second adjournment in the trial of the 23 who were arrested during demonstrations about a living wage in January this year.

21 of those who were arrested in the January violence continue to be held in the high security CC1 prison outside Phnom Penh having had earlier bail requests denied.

Second postponement
The trial which was due to begin on April 25 has already been postponed once and hopes were high that as the trial began today, May 6,  it would give all those arrested the opportunity for justice.

However this postponement has been met with bitter disappointment by the men’s supporters, including human rights activists, monks and the men’s families.
read more.
Site

* Trials of 23 Cambodian labor activists adjourned again:

The trials of 23 labor activists and garment workers, who were detained during violent protests four months ago, were adjourned for the second time to May 20 after a 5-hour hearing Tuesday.

“The court adjourned the trials to May 20 because it needs more time to examine documents and evidence,” a defense lawyer, Sam Sokong, told reporters after the hearing. “The adjournment is good for both the court and the defendants — they will have enough time to find additional documents.”

The 23 detainees, who are charged with intentionally causing violence and destroying property, were brought to courtrooms Tuesday morning under tight security as dozens of union activists and relatives gathered outside the court to call for the detainees ‘ release.

Government critic Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, is among the detainees.
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CHINAORG

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* ‘The 23’ put police on trial:

20140507 PPP
Defendant Chan Puthisak outside Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday. Puthisak is one of 23 people on trial after being arrested in garment protests in January.
Photo by Pha Lina.

Each of the 23 defendants who testified yesterday on charges linked to the garment protests in early January denied involvement in the violent demonstrations, while many said police beat false statements out of them.

On the second full day of proceedings for the trial of nearly two dozen people, judges and attorneys in two Phnom Penh Municipal Court rooms completed questioning of all but three defendants. The cases are scheduled to continue at 8am on May 20.

“The 23”, as they’ve come to be known on social media and in public rallies in support of them, were all arrested in early January in a violent crackdown on garment protests that were sparked by the government announcing in late December a lower-than-desired rise in minimum wage to $95.

Ten of the defendants were arrested on January 2 outside the South Korean-owned Yakjin garment factory, when protesters blocked a national road. The next day, the rest of the group was swept up as part of a crackdown in which military police fired on an unruly demonstration outside Phnom Penh’s Canadia Industrial Park on Veng Sreng Boulevard, killing at least four people.

No one has been arrested or brought to court over the shootings.

After the crackdown, the majority of defendants spent nearly four months in jail before all had their first day in court on April 25, though much of it was procedural. Proceedings yesterday, however, involved far more testimony, most of which conflicted with official accounts.

“They arrested me while I was riding to Svay Rieng province to bring clothes to my wife, who just delivered our baby,” said Ros Sophoan, 25, a garment and construction worker arrested on January 3. “After arresting [and beating] me, police ordered me to run; police ran after me and beat me again, like an animal.”
read more.
PPP new

* Garment Protest Trial Defendants Deny Charges:

20140507 CD
A police barricade blocks protesters from reaching Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday during the hearings of 25 men arrested during a series of garment worker protests in November and January. (Siv Channa)

Defendants in a mass trial of 25 men and teenagers accused of joining a string of violent garment worker protests continued to profess their innocence during the second day of hearings at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday.

Twenty-three of the men were arrested in January during protests for higher garment factory wages that ended abruptly after military police shot into crowds of demonstrators outside a Phnom Penh factory on January 3, killing five people and injuring more than 40. The other two defendants were arrested during a clash between police and garment factory workers near Stung Meanchey bridge in November.

After months of delay, their trials started only late last month.

As their hearings resumed Tuesday morning, the 13 men arrested on January 3 along Veng Sreng Street in Pur Senchay district took turns giving the court much the same story of innocent bystanders erroneously arrested by police.

Defendant Chea Sarath said he was a moto-taxi driver who worked in the area and stopped to watch the commotion when he was attacked by police and arrested.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “I just stood by to watch the demonstration because I wanted to know what was happening. When the military police arrested me, they fought me like I was an animal.”

Ros Sophorn told the court he was driving by the demonstrations on his way to Svay Rieng province, where his wife was due to give birth to their baby in a matter of days, when he was arrested.

“I did not join the demonstration…but at the time the military police arrested me and accused me of joining,” he said. “I was not involved, so please help to find justice for me.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* After 2nd Adjournment, Speedy Trial for 23 Protesters Unlikely:

On Tuesday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court adjourned proceedings in the case of the 25 protesters arrested during the garment sector strikes that broke out in the capital late last year.

The two young men arrested in clashes with police near the Stung Meanchey Bridge in November and charged with intentional violence and property destruction were told to expect a verdict on May 30.

For the 23 beaten and arrested by soldiers and military police in January, however, a speedy trial is proving more difficult.

The court on Tuesday said it would only continue to hear their case after two weeks—on May 20—having previously pushed the case forward 11 days after opening proceedings on April 25.

“According to our monitoring of many cases over the years, it is a strange case that the court is doing this,” said Ny Chakrya, who has been covering the trial as the head of monitoring at local rights group Adhoc.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* Supreme Court denies bail to 21 rights defenders and workers:

This morning, the Supreme Court announced that it will uphold the decision of the Court of Appeal on February 11, 2014 to deny bail requests for 21 of 23 human rights defenders and workers arrested in early January.

None of the 21 defendants were transferred to court for the bail decision.

The Supreme Court provided two reasons for denying bail to the 21: first, the investigation into the cases has already been closed by the investigating judge; and second, the trials are already in progress so defendants should remain in detention to ensure their attendance.
read more.
licadho

* Cambodian top court denies to free 23 detained protesters on bail:

Cambodia’s Supreme Court on Friday denied bail requests for the 23 labor activists and garment workers who were arrested following violent clashes four months ago.

“The court decides not to grant bails to the detainees because the Phnom Penh Municipal Court has been proceeding with the trial of the defendants,” said the verdict read by the Supreme Court’s Presiding Judge Khim Pon. “Therefore, the presence of the defendants is necessary.”

Outside the court, dozens of labor and human rights activists protested against the court’s decision.

The detainees, who are charged with intentionally causing violence and destroying property, were arrested during clashes between anti-riot police and protesters in January when they held violent protests to demand a higher minimum wage of 160 U.S. dollars a month for the garment sector.
read more. & to read.
CHINAORG GLOBALTIMES

* For union leader on run, militant attitude prevails:

20140509 CD For-union-leader-on-run-militant-attitude-prevails
to see-read. & to read.
BF NEW Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* Fifth Bail Request Denied for Vorn Pao, 20 Other Detainees:

Any hope of bail for labor leader Vorn Pao and 20 other garment workers and unionists detained during strikes in early January was extinguished by the Supreme Court on Friday, after their fifth application to be released from prison was denied.

Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association, is being tried alongside 22 others who were rounded up during garment strikes on January 2 and 3, and who were charged with causing intentional violence and damaging public property. The trial, which began on April 25, has been adjourned until May 20.

“The Supreme Court has decided to uphold the verdict of the Court of Appeal, because the current investigating judge has closed the investigation and the hearing is in process, so the defendants have to remain in prison to await their next hearing at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court,” said Presiding Judge Khim Pon.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia’s Low Cost Garment Industry: Sustainable for Whom? :

Most Cambodians have never even heard of Gap or Wal-Mart. For Cambodians they’re just labels that are sewn onto some of the millions of garments produced here.

But what labels they are. Cambodian garment exports were worth US$5.5 billion last year, around one third of the country’s GDP. Almost US$2 billion of this ended up in major US department stores.
Despite its reputation as a source of clean labor, the Cambodian garment industry is typified by poverty wages, forced labor and discrimination and violence against pregnant women and trade union leaders.

On any given day, we may see workers who have fallen unconscious at work due to lack of food and or sleep; individuals seeking to avoid involuntary 14-hour work days in 40-plus degree heat; women who have been terminated by their employer because they are expecting a child; or workers who are arrested, beaten or shot for trying to start a trade union to change the status quo.

US retailers know this all too well. In fact, one could say that it’s one of the reasons that they are here.

The minimum wage in Cambodia is US$100 per month making Cambodian labor some of the cheapest in the world. It’s barely a poverty wage, especially when you consider that nearly all Cambodian garment workers have children and elderly parents to support.

Perhaps even more shockingly, the $100 wage is only very recent improvement – one paid for in blood. In the last year alone, at least five people have been shot dead at garment factory protests calling for increased wages.
A 16-year-old boy who was last seen lying on the ground with blood pouring from what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his chest is still missing. He is likely the sixth fatality.

Three of those killed were sewing garments for Wal-Mart.
read more.
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* Cambodian Garment Workers Call for Justice:

Video by Tola Moeun, Head of Legal Program, Community Legal Education Center (CLEC), Cambodia.
see more.
CLEC

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* Wage talk for workers to be resumed next week:

Talk to discuss minimum wage for footwear and garment factory workers will be resumed next week, an official said.

The source said the final wage talk may be held in late 2014 to decide on minimum wage for the workers.

The meeting between representatives from factories and unions as well as government officials last month produced five points of agreement including annual and gradual wage increase.

The garment and footwear factory workers have begun protesting since late 2013 and early 2014 to demand wage increase to US$160 per month.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Workers fired after strike:

Two factories in the Manhattan Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet town have fired more than 40 workers since thousands-strong strikes ended early this month, unions say.

Terminations at Best Way and Fico garment factories were bosses’ way of exacting revenge for the large-scale strike that closed entire SEZs for days, Meas Sokna, an official from the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said.

All 40 dismissals occurred last week, and about 10 new workers replaced them, an official at Best Way said.
“It is not acceptable,” Sokna said. “After they joined the strike last month, the company fired a few workers each day until more than 40 had been sacked.”
read more.
PPP new

(note: ‘Best Way’ is a bicycle factory)

* Nearly 850 protests this year: police:

20140515 PPP Garment-Protest
Garment workers demand a minimum wage increase in the capital last year.
Photo by Hong Menea
.

Almost 850 demonstrations or strikes have occurred nationwide since the year began – a seemingly anarchic average of more than six a day, the General Commissariat of National Police announced this week, blaming politicians, NGOs and trade unions for helping to incite demonstrators and “complicating the security situation” in the country.

But rights groups and the opposition party say that the sheer number of protests proves discontent is widespread in the Kingdom and that instead of playing the blame game, the government should be doing more to address the root causes of dissatisfaction, such as poor labour conditions and rights abuses.

Issues including land disputes, eviction resettlements, human rights and labour issues have fuelled 842 protests so far this year, at times leading to violence, rioting and the blocking of public roads, Police Commissioner Neth Savoeun announced in a report released to coincide with the 69th anniversary of the founding of the National Police on Monday.
read more.
PPP new

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* Injured garment worker beaten during January’s clampdown died early this morning from unknown causes:

This morning at 3.15 am, Moun Sokmean, a 29 year old man who suffered from serious injuries on January 3, died whilst on his way to hospital.

The day of the clampdown on garment workers on Veng Sreng Road, he was hospitalized after receiving trauma to his body, head, and face.

Yesterday evening his family found that he was restless and incoherent so they took him to hospital but he died on the way.
read more.
licadho

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* Veng Sreng beating victim dies:

A garment worker who was severely beaten by police during a January 3 protest on Veng Sreng Boulevard at which police opened fire, killing at least four, died yesterday.

Family members of Moun Sokmean, 29, say his death was the result of a brutal assault by authorities, which caused head trauma that blinded his left eye and rendered him unable to work or care for his 3-year-old son.

“The government should not ignore this case,” Luch Pouy, Sokmean’s father, said this morning. “The government must take responsibility for the violence they committed against my son and other workers.”

Sokmean had been beaten near the Canadia Industrial Park, where he worked at a garment factory, during a nationwide strike for a minimum garment wage of $160 per month, Pouv said.

After Sokmean began complaining to his wife of severe pain in his head early on Saturday morning, his father and cousin put him on a motorbike and took him to Visal Sok clinic in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district at about 3am, Pouv said. He died on the way there.

No official cause of death has been released, but rights groups have called for an investigation into Sokmean’s demise.
read more.
PPP new

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* Worker Beaten on Veng Sreng in January Dies of Head Injuries:

A man who was beaten by military police during the lethal suppression of a nationwide strike of garment workers in January died of his head injuries on Saturday, his family said Sunday.

Muon Sokmean, 29, was demanding a $160 minimum wage with colleagues from the Canadia Industrial Park on Veng Sreng Street in Phnom Penh when military police armed with AK-47 assault rifles crushed the protest, killing at least five people and injuring more than 40.

The death of Muon Sokmean from injuries sustained on January 3 would bring the total killed to six. However, an autopsy was not performed before his wife Pok Heam cremated his body on Saturday.

Ms. Heam said Sunday that her husband had awoken at 3 a.m. Saturday, yelling in pain in their small Pur Senchey district room.
“I asked him why he shouted so loud, and he shouted and shouted and then we saw his eyes roll back into his head,” she said, clasping her three-year-old son.

Ms. Heam said she rushed her husband to a clinic but that he died on the way. She said she is certain his injuries from the strikes—a damaged eye and a brain contusion—caused his death.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Protester injured at rally dies:

Before dawn on Saturday, family members of Moun Sokmean found him distressed and incoherent.

Over the past several months, Sokmean, who was left blind in one eye after being beaten by authorities during a January 3 garment sector protest, had complained of headaches and other ailments. But this time was different.

His father, Luch Pouy, and a cousin put the 29-year-old on a motorbike and rushed him to a doctor. When they arrived at Visal Sok clinic in the capital’s Chamkarmon district at 3:15am, it was too late, Pouy said. Sokmean had died on the way there.

“I took him by my motorbike to a private clinic, but when we reached the clinic, the doctor said he had already passed away,” Pouy said yesterday.
read more.
PPP new

* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day three:

Tomorrow morning, the trial of 23 workers and human rights activists will resume at the Phnom Penh Court. The trial has now reached its third day and proceedings are scheduled to start at 8am.

round up of events so far
In the case of the 10 men arrested in front of the Yak Jin factory, six defendants have given evidence. The seventh defendant, Sokun Sambath Piseth, was in the middle of giving evidence when the hearing was adjourned. In the hearing of the 13 men arrested on Veng Sreng Road, all 13 defendants have given evidence and the court has now moved on to the witnesses.

On both previous trial days, judges heard evidence from witnesses and defendants until mid-afternoon when proceedings were interrupted so that the defendants could be transported back to CC1 prison.
(…)

Workers show support for 23
This morning, Cambodia Express News reported that 500 workers at the Tong Zhe garment factory had gathered to show their support for the 23. As well as asking that the 21 remaining detainees be released and that charges against the 23 be dropped, they also made 18 demands for improved conditions including a fixed date for payment of salary, an end to compulsory overtime, and money for meals and transport.
(…)
read more & follow the Livestream.
licadho

* Cambodia among the worst countries on the new ITUC Global Rights Index:

The International Trade Union Confederation today released their Global Rights Index, ranking 139 countries against 97 internationally recognised indicators to assess where workers’ rights are best protected, in law and in practice.

The International Trade Union Confederation has been collecting data on the abuse of trade union rights around the world for the past 30 years. Now for the first time the ITUC Global Rights Index presents carefully verified information from the last 12 months in an easy-to-use format so that every government and business can see how their laws and supply chains stack up.

“Countries such as Denmark and Uruguay led the way through their strong labour laws, but perhaps surprisingly, the likes of Greece, the United States and Hong Kong, lagged behind,” says ITUC general secretary Sharan Burrow.
“A country’s level of development proved to be a poor indicator of whether it respected basic rights to bargain collectively, strike for decent conditions, or simply join a union at all.”
read more. & read more.
INDUSRIall ITUC CSI IGB

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* Trial for 23 to resume amid rally:

The trial of 23 men arrested at violent demonstrations in early January continues at 8am today, and unionists are planning on rallying outside the court in a show of solidarity.

About 100 union members will join staff from the Cambodian Labour Confederation and the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where the trial will continue after two separate hearings spread out over the past month, C.CAWDU staffer Sun Lyhov said.

Defendants face charges ranging from incitement to intentional violence with aggravated circumstances after their arrests during a garment strike on January 2 and 3.

On the second day, authorities opened fire on crowds on Veng Sreng Boulevard, killing at least four. A fifth person who was severely beaten that day died over the weekend.

Unionists’ attempts to gain access to the courtrooms were unsuccessful on April 25 and May 6, the dates of the two previous hearings, but they will try again today, Lyhov said.
to read.
PPP new

* Five Months On, Witnesses Recall Muon Sokmean’s Beating:

Muon Sokmean, a 29-year-old garment worker, scrambled off Veng Sreng Street on January 3 with military police in violent pursuit, brandishing their batons.

What had been a militant protest for a $160 minimum wage in the garment sector—with many protesters lobbing rocks and crude Molotov cocktails at military police—had devolved into a pitched battle on one of Phnom Penh’s main industrial boulevards.

“I saw military police chase him into my restaurant and beat him with batons,” said Vy, 32, the owner of a restaurant on Veng Sreng Street, who declined to give her full name Monday for fear of her personal safety.

“They kept kicking him once he fell down. He was really severely beaten,” said Vy.
When Mr. Sokmean got up from his beating, he was disoriented and bleeding heavily from his head and one of his eyes, she said.

On Saturday, Muon Sokmean passed away from the injuries he sustained on Veng Sreng Street, according to his family. The spokesman for the military police, however, said on Sunday that there is no evidence proving that his forces caused what would be the sixth fatality from the crackdown—five others were shot dead by military police.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Clashes break out, injuring four people as 23 protesters on trial:

Four people were injured in a clash between the protesters and the security guards as The Phnom Penh court is having hearings on 23 protesters.

A reporter of the Cambodia Herald reported from the scene that stones were thrown in the clash, injuring four security guards.
Many protesters including monks are gathering outside the Phnom Penh court where the 23 protesters are on trial.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day three:

20140520 LICADO
The 21 defendants who have not been released on bail arrived at court from CC1 prison shortly after 6 o’clock this morning.

07:06 ICT May 20
Some witnesses, as well as family members of the defendants, have also arrived and are waiting inside the court building.
read more & follow the Livestream.
licadho

* Cambodia: US Training of Abusive Military Exposed:

US military training to Cambodia’s abusive armed forces could easily be misused against the political opposition and labor unions and may violate US law.

The US military support was evident in official publicity material and personal pages posted on Facebook during the annual “Angkor Sentinel” exercises conducted from April 21 to 30, 2014.

“It’s shocking that the US military is providing armed soldiers training in kicking down doors soon after Cambodian armed forces killed protesting workers in Phnom Penh,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“While the ‘enemy’ the US is training Cambodia to defend against isn’t stated, these forces of late have only been used against opposition protesters and striking factory workers.”
read more.
HRW

* News flash: Cambodian trial continues tomorrow:

Clean Clothes Campaign and campaigners around the world continue to call for the immediate dropping of all charges and release of the 23 men arrested in Cambodia in January 2014. Today the third day of the trial was postponed again, to tomorrow.

Clean Clothes Campaign is disappointed to learn of the second adjournment in the trial of the 23 who were arrested during demonstrations about a living wage in January this year.

The trial which was due to begin on April 25 has already been postponed twice and hopes were high that as the trial began today, May 20,  it would give all those arrested the opportunity for justice.

However this postponement has been met with bitter disappointment by the men’s supporters, including human rights activists, monks and the men’s families.

Anne Dekker of Clean Clothes Campaign says “we demand a fair and free trial. It’s been far over a hundred days that they have been inprisoned unlawfully. Workers asking for a wage they can live on can not be treated like criminals. We call on the Cambodian Government to ensure that there are no further postponements.”
read more.
CCC

 

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* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day four:

The trial of 23 workers and human rights activists continues today at the Phnom Penh Court. The trial has now reached its fourth day and proceedings are scheduled to start at 8am.

read more and follow  the livestream.   Here you can find an overview of what happens in the courtrooms and oustide the court.
licadho

20140521 LICADHO

* Defendants cut off as 23’s trial goes on:

When union leader Vorn Pov was finally allowed to give testimony yesterday on the third day of the trial of 23 men arrested during a garment strike in January, he found himself cut off by an attorney ordering him to answer only the exact question he was being asked.

“I want to answer completely, so you can find justice for me,” the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) president said at Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

The exchange was indicative of the stance judges and prosecutors took towards the workers and unionists charged with crimes ranging from incitement to intentional violence.

Answers by four defendants arrested during a protest at Yakjin Garment factory on January 2 were repeatedly cut off by judge Keo Mony and prosecutor Ly Sophanna yesterday on the grounds that they were irrelevant.

In courtroom two, judge Leang Samnath agreed with the prosecution that its witnesses testifying against 13 men charged over a protest on January 3 – when authorities shot dead at least four people – needed limited cross examination.
read more.
PPP new

* Union Leader Details Beating By Soldiers:

20140521 CD cam-front-photo
Protesters hold a pair of dead chickens over a line of riot police on Tuesday near the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where 23 men were on trial for their roles in a pair of garment worker protests in January. The chickens were sacrificed to drive away bad spirits from the court and bring the defendants good luck. (Siv Channa)

Taking the stand for the first time since his arrest at a garment worker protest that turned violent in early January, union leader Vorn Pao told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday that he went to the protest only to make peace and was beaten bloody by soldiers for his efforts.

Mr. Pao, president of the Informal Democracy of Economy Association, was one of 23 men arrested on January 2 and 3 at a pair of protests for higher garment sector wages and charged with causing or inciting violence and property damage.
Military police shot and killed at least five people at the demonstration on January 3, where protesters were armed with stones, slingshots and Molotov cocktails.

At Tuesday’s hearings, the third in these trials, Mr. Pao said he was still suffering from the beating he received at the hands of soldiers—including members of the elite Brigade 911—who had been called in to suppress a protest outside the Yakjin garment factory on January 2.

“I was beaten on the head three or four times, and there was blood. I know the person who beat me. He was from Unit 911,” he said.

Mr. Pao denied doing anything to incite the violence that erupted between the soldiers and protesters.

“I just asked them to not use violence and not beat Khmer,” he said. “I prayed to RCAF [Royal Cambodian Armed Forces] to not use violence when they pointed their weapons at the workers and at me.”

Mr. Pao was the last man to be questioned Tuesday. Earlier, another of the 10 men arrested outside Yakjin on January 2, Sokhun Sambathpiseth, also denied attacking the soldiers and accused the soldiers of attacking him unprovoked.

“Before they arrested me, they beat me as if I were a thief,” he said. “Vorn Pao and I were arrested together, and I thought I would die and become food for the crocodiles.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Worker rights ‘stack up poorly’:

20140521 PPP Workers_Protest
Garment workers cheer and chant on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Boulevard in January during a protest demanding the industry’s minimum wage be raised to $160 a month. Photo by Pha Lina.

Cambodia is one of the worst countries in the world to work in, according to an International Trade Union Confederation report released on Monday.

The 2014 ITUC Global Rights Index – which focuses on the extent to which workers’ rights such as freedom of association, collective bargaining and freedom to strike are respected – says Cambodia is worse than Iraq, Myanmar and Pakistan when it comes to violations.

Following the deadly shooting by government forces of at least four people during a garment strike in January, Cambodia has been given a “5” rating and is considered to offer “no guarantee of rights”, putting it in the unenviable company of Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

“While the legislation may spell out certain rights, workers have effectively no access to these rights and are therefore exposed to autocratic regimes and unfair labour practices,” the report says of the rating.

Only a rating of “5+”, reserved for countries such as Syria and the Central African Republic, where rule of law has completely broken down, is considered worse. However, even in countries in that category, rights are considered no more limited than in those with a “5” rating.

Contributing significantly to Cambodia’s poor ranking were the fatal shootings on Veng Sreng Boulevard on January 3.
read more.
PPP new

* Training under fire:

After a series of government crackdowns on protests in Cambodia – at least one of which was known to involve an elite RCAF unit – a leading rights group yesterday lambasted the US for providing training to the country’s “abusive armed forces”.

In a statement released yesterday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) hit out at US military forces for providing “training that would assist Cambodia’s military in government crackdowns on the political opposition and civil society activists”.

The statement further suggests that the joint exercises may be in violation of US law, an assertion strongly denied by the US Embassy in Phnom Penh yesterday.

The training took place last month as part of Angkor Sentinel, an annual joint exercise between the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and the US military.

According to HRW, videos and photographs posted on Facebook show evidence of training exercises that “may violate US congressional funding requirements for military training and other forms of security assistance … except in limited areas of ‘global health, food security, humanitarian demining programs, human rights training for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, or to enhance maritime security capabilities.’”

“You have cases where there are people charging across fields with guns … storming buildings, kicking down doors. It is forbidden; it is against the law,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of HRW’s Asia division, told the Post yesterday.

“I don’t think they were actually even hiding it,” he said.
read more.
PPP new

* Rights Group Says US Military Support Breaches Congress Bill:

U.S.-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday released a report claiming that Washington’s ongoing support for Cambodian security forces is inconsistent with U.S. Congress directives regarding aid to Cambodia.

HRW charges that last month’s 10-day Angkor Sentinel military exercise, undertaken by members of the U.S. military and the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), breaches a bill signed by U.S. President Barack Obama in January.

“Congress made it clear in its last budget bill that it didn’t want training like this for Cambodia,” Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director, said in the statement. “The Pentagon needs to explain why it circumvented Congress and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

The U.S. provides $80 million in aid to Cambodia annually, only a portion of which is given directly to the government. The January budget bill suspended all of the direct funding except that for humanitarian aid and human rights training for RCAF.

The annual Angkor Sentinel exercises are, ostensibly, training for multinational peacekeeping forces. Photos posted to the official Angkor Sentinel Facebook page show Cambodian soldiers armed with AK-47 assault rifles engaged in combat exercises.

“It’s shocking that the U.S. military is providing armed soldiers training in kicking down doors soon after Cambodian armed forces killed protesting workers in Phnom Penh,” Mr. Adams said, referring to the lethal suppression of garment sector protests in January.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Workers & Political Activists under Attack:

In court room 1, the judge is questioning Vorn Pao closely about his tuk tuk. Pao says that their were two loudspeakers on top of the tuk tuk as well as the IDEA flag, the Buddhist flag and two Cambodian flags.

The judge asked again if there were rocks in the tuk tuk and Pao said no. The judge then produced a photo of a tuk tuk with loudspeakers inside. The tuk tuk in the photo also contains rocks. Pao repeatedly denied putting rocks in his tuk tuk and his defence lawyers say they have never seen the photo before.

Pao’s tuk tuk can be seen in this video being wheeled away by military officers.
see video.
licadho

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Justice Upsite Down: Human Rights defenders in prison and on Trial.
And those who injured, killed people walk free.

* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day five:

The trial of 23 workers and human rights activists continues today at the Phnom Penh Court. The trial has now reached its fifth day and proceedings are scheduled to start at 8am.

Live Information Stream HERE.

In court room 2, defence lawyers are continuing their concluding remarks.
They have argued that the prosecution has not provided enough evidence to prove the defendants committed any of the crimes with which they are charged.

Furthermore none of the civil parties or prosecution witnesses identified any of the defendants instead referring only to a group of anarchists.

The defence lawyers have also argued that the defendants are victims themselves as they were beaten and injured during their arrest.

Court room 2 – trial ended
In court room 2, the hearing has just ended.
The verdict will be announced on May 30.

An Overview of The “Free the 23″ Trial from Day 1 – now HERE.

20140522 LICADHOThe 21 defendants who have not been granted bail arrived at court shortly after 6 o’clock this morning. They came by truck from Phnom Penh’s CC1 prison where they have been detained since April 24, the day before the trial began.
Photo by LICADHO
licadho

20140522 LICADHO 2
About one hundred people are marching and now heading towards Monivong Boulevard. Over loudspeakers they are saying that the innocent are in prison while the guilty are free.  Photo by LICADHO
licadho

* Union Leader Rejects Video, Photo Evidence:

20140522 CD cam-photo-23-hearing
Monks lead a march around central Phnom Penh on Wednesday to protest the ongoing trial of 23 men arrested at a pair of garment worker demonstrations in early January. (Siv Channa)

The union leader is one of 23 men on trial for their roles in a pair of protests for higher garment sector wages in early January that turned violent. The protests came to a bloody end on January 3 after military police shot dead at least five garment workers.

Mr. Pao, who along with nine others was beaten by soldiers before his arrest outside the Yakjin factory on January 2, told the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday that he went to the protest only to implore both the soldiers and workers to refrain from violence.

As his questioning resumed, the prosecution presented photos of Mr. Pao’s tuk-tuk at the protest: one of the vehicle festooned with megaphones and Buddhist flags, and another of it filled with rocks. Mr. Pao said it was his tuk-tuk in each photo, but denied that he had at any point packed it with rocks.

“I don’t know who put the rocks in the tuk-tuk; I think the soldiers put them there, not me,” he said.

Judge Keo Mony quickly rebuked him for making accusations.

“You must not accuse the security forces, and you must make that claim in another case,” he said.

During the hearing, the prosecution also presented a video clip and several photos of Mr. Pao at a tense but peaceful garment worker rally in front of the Council of Ministers on December 30.

In the clip, Mr. Pao could be seen and heard advising any police ordered by their superiors to point their guns at garment workers to point the weapons at their superiors instead. But Mr. Pao refused to confirm that the audio in the clip was accurate and challenged the court’s use of a video from December 30, when he was on trial for a protest on January 2.

“I don’t know why the judge takes another case and links it with Yakjin. What is the real intention of this hearing?” he said. “I will respond to what happened at Yakjin, no other case.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Judge brings own evidence:

20140522 PPP
Monks march near the Phnom Penh Municple Court yesterday demanding justice for 23 people who were detained during violent strikes in January. Photo by Pha Lina.

A judge in one of the trials of 23 men arrested during January garment strikes that turned deadly went on the offensive yesterday, independently bringing forth evidence against union leader Vorn Pov.

During Pov’s questioning in Phnom Penh Municipal Court, judge Keo Mony played a video of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) president making a speech at a protest in front of the Council of Ministers on December 30, three days before the clash at the Yakjin garment factory, where he and nine others were arrested.

“I want to confirm that Vorn Pov always takes up the dharma for nonviolence, and want to ask him if he always [holds to nonviolence],” Mony said.

The judge’s actions drew criticism later, but he insisted he was acting within Article 325 of the Cambodian Code of Criminal Procedure.

The clause allows judges to ask defendants questions, which made introducing the video legitimate, he said.

“In a hearing, we can ask any questions related to finding the truth.”

The video Mony played features Pov standing in a tuk-tuk parked in the middle of a crowd of thousands on Russian Boulevard behind razor wire that authorities set up to block a minimum-wage march to the Council of Ministers.

Hanging out of the tuk-tuk with loudspeakers affixed to the roof, Pov addresses the crowd, urging armed military police to side with protesters rather than their superior officers. “I am Cambodian; I dislike violence,” Pov says. “[But] if your commander orders you to shoot people, you can turn your guns on your commander, because someone who orders that is not a Cambodian.”

Despite objections from defence attorney Sam Sokong, Mony maintained that he was acting accordingly in playing the video for the courtroom.

“Do you accept this video?” Mony asked, to which Pov said he did not.
He wasn’t the only one.

According to legal expert Sok Sam Oeun, Article 325, titled Interrogation of Accused, only states that trial judges may ask defendants questions during examination. While an investigating judge may seek out evidence, a trial judge may only consider evidence submitted, he said.

“If [Mony] is the one who found the evidence himself and not by another party, he cannot sit as trial judge . . . so in this case, he can be dropped as trial judge,” Sam Oeun said, adding that he “cannot tolerate” such actions from a judge.
read more.
PPP new

* Supporters stand with the 23 on fifth day Cambodian trial:

20140522 CCC-LICADHO
Photo by Licadho

On day 5 of the trial against the 23 people arrested during the wage strikes in Cambodia last January, supporters shelter from the rain while others continue to sing and dance. Locals have been providing them with refreshments.

After Vorn Pao, President of IDEA (Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association) and one of the 23 arrested people during the wage strikes in Cambodia, began to give evidence yesterday, the Deputy Prosecutor has repeatedly accused him of playing the victim. Pao replied that that’s because he got beaten on the head.

He is not the only one with horrific stories of abuse: yesterday another men arrested on the days of the strike said that military police beat him before making him run to only catch him again and beat him again. He required several stitches on his nose following the beating.
read more.
CCC

* Trial of Cambodian labor activists ends, verdict expected on May 30:

The trial of 23 labor activists and garment workers, who were arrested during violent protests four months ago, came to an end Thursday night after a three-day hearing.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s Presiding Judge Keo Mony said a verdict for the defendants will be announced on May 30 at 8:00 a.m.
The 23 detainees are accused of inciting violence and destroying property during clashes between police and protesters in January when violent protests were held to demand a higher minimum wage of 160 U.S. dollars a month for garment workers.
The clashes at that time left 4 people dead and dozens injured, and cost garment factories millions of U.S. dollars.
read more.
CHINAORG

* Free the 23 verdict: 30th May:

The verdict of the 23 people 23 people arrested during the wage strikes in Cambodia last January will be announced at 8am on May 30. Free the 23!

Around 15.30 CET, after two full days of testifying, the arrested strikers left court and are returning to CC1 prison.

After Vorn Pao, President of IDEA (Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association) and one of the 23 arrested people during the wage strikes in Cambodia, began to give evidence yesterday, the Deputy Prosecutor has repeatedly accused him of playing the victim. Pao replied that that’s because he got beaten on the head.

He is not the only one with horrific stories of abuse: yesterday another men arrested on the days of the strike said that military police beat him before making him run to only catch him again and beat him again. He required several stitches on his nose following the beating.

CCC and our partners worldwide continue to stand in solidarity with all those demanding a living wage for garment workers in Cambodia and we demand that the prisoners are released from custody immediately and all charges dropped.
to read.
CCC

$160

30140523

SEE PART  4 :  *  Cambodian Garment Workers: $160 We Need! Part 4 20140523- now

 

map of Asia

An overview of articles 7 March 2014- 22 May 2014

HEADLINES

20140307
* Garment unions: the call for women to represent women
* Labor unions not allowed to hold public forum at Freedom Park
* Security Forces Hold Drills Ahead of Saturday’s Union Forum
* Police drill ahead of forum
* Cambodian anti-riot police conduct exercise in preparation for future protests
* BetterFactories Media updates 7 March 2014, Union reps must prove clean criminal records
* Cambodian riot police prepares to attack women’s march tomorrow
* Cambodia bans public forum planned by opposition-aligned trade unions on Women’s Day
* World is watching as women workers protest in Cambodia

20140308
* Women’s day forum blocked
* LICADHO Livestream
* Free The 23
* Sar Kheng Bans Rally, Gives Police $54K in Bonuses
* GMAC welcomes government commitment to labor law
* Cambodian union activists banned from entering Freedom Park
* Roundup: Cambodian union activists end rally after banned from entering Freedom Park

20140309
* Photographs Of How Intl. Women’s Day Should Not Look Like
* Cambodian union activists end rally after banned from entering Freedom Park

20140310
* Protest Ban Firmly in Place on Women’s Day
* After blockade, unions plot next move
* BetterFactories Media updates 10 March 2014

20140311
* Strike may be shifted to post-holiday date
* Union activists defy government ban on public forum
* Arrested union leader Vorn Pao speaks from prison
* Cambodian opposition-aligned trade unions postpone garment strike

20140312
* Six Unions Suspend ‘Stay At Home’ Garment Strike
* Planned strike delayed; some vow to press on
* BetterFactories Media updates 11-12 March 2014, Planned strike delayed; some vow to press on

20140313
* On 1st Day, Garment Strike Gains Little Traction
* Minority of unions still strike
* Riot Police Ready for Action, Protests on Standby
* Freedom Park off-limits: city
* BetterFactories Media updates 13 March 2014

20140314
* Nationwide Garment Factory Strike Fizzles After First Day
* New Report Says Garment Sector Fails to Meet UN Standards
* BetterFactories Media updates 14 March 2014
* Unions and brands mount pressure on Cambodian government

20140315
* Fashion Labels Concerned By New Trade Union Law

20140317
* Court Probe of Veng Sreng Street Slaughter Ends

20140318
* Dying for fashion

20140320
* All quiet on the garment front
* Cambodia’s stability is hanging by a thread

20140321
* The few who stayed at home to strike

20140322
* Dying for fashion (video report)
* Analysis: Garment workers hold key to Cambodia’s political future

20140324
* Campaigners call for disappearance probe
* Public Letter Urging an Immediate Investigation into the Disappearance of Khem Sophath
* Appeal Court decides today on prominent protest leader’s bail request
* Appeal Court denies bail release for Vorn Pao
* CCHR launches “Where is My Justice?” campaign

20140325
* CCHR launches “Where is My Justice?” campaign
* Families make plea for justice
* Campaign Calls for Justice After State Killings
* IDEA activist denied bail
* Union Leader Denied Bail, Barred From Hearing

20140326
* Labor Minister Responds to Brands’ Concerns
* Crackdown in Cambodia- Workers Seeking Higher Wages Meet Violent Repression

20140327
* Family of Slain Protesters Questioned Despite Closed Investigation
* Unions to lead holiday strike

20140328
* Violence blamed on CNRP
* GMAC to explain Cambodian behavior to foreign managers

20140329
* Thirteen Detained Veng Sreng Activists to Face Court In April

20140331
* Workers to file stories from the factory floor

20140402
* Unions, GMAC Tussle Over New Year Strike
* Fourth Bail Hearing, Trial Date Set for Vorn Pao
* Operation ‘urgent’ for strike detainee

20140404
* Court denies rights defenders’ bail request once again
* Phnom Penh Court refuses to free prominent a protest leader Vorn Pov for the second time

20140405-07
* Vorn Pao Denied Bail for the Fourth Time
* Van not fit for 21: CC3
* Union leader: Workers to hold protest after New Year
* Date set for wage-reform talks
* Labor Ministry, ILO Set Out Plan for Minimum Wage Reforms

20140408
* Unions press ahead with strike plans despite arrest threats
* Union activist freed, but cops keep fliers
* BetterFactories Media Updates

20140409
* Costs don’t top brands’ concerns
* Union Leader in West Seeking Release of Jailed Activists
* BetterFactories Media Updates

20140410
* Unions drum up strike support
* Unions Spread Word of Strike Through Radio, Web
* Cambodian opposition-aligned trade unions call for strike after Lunar New Year
* BetterFactories Media Updates 10 April 2014

20140411
* Staying at Home Not a Strike, Factories Say
* CCHR’s Open Letter to Minister of Interior Sar Kheng asking him to ensure the 23 are present at trial

20140412
* Trial of 23 Delayed By Municipal Court

20140414
* Activists Hold Pre-New Year’s Ceremony for 23
* CPP vows to increase monthly wage to 250 dollars for civil servants and 160 dollars for garment workers by 2018

20140415
* Cambodia’s Garment Workers: Videos of a Struggle- Rising For Rights

20140417
* Predictions Mixed For Post-New Year Garment Strike
* Cambodian Garment Workers commence strike for a Living Wage

20140418
* Stay-at-home garment strike off to weak start
* Little Appetite for Garment Strike in Phnom Penh
* Trial of ‘the 23’ delayed from today to next week

20140419
* Nationwide Garment Factory Strike Sputters Into Second Day

20140421
* 2,500 Workers in Bavet SEZ Go on Strike

20140422
* UN Concerned About Detainees’ Presence at Trials
* Thousands continue their strike
* Stay-at-Home Strike a Bust as Workers Return to Factories
* Strike falls flat as factories fill
* BetterFactories Media Updates 19-22 April

20140423
* Wage-setting meet up in air
* Strikes still on in some provinces
* Isolated Protests Emerge in Wake of Failed Garment Strike
* Remaining “Free the 23” detainees moved to Phnom Penh in preparation for Friday hearing
* BetterFactories Media Updates 23 April 2014

20140424
* As Protesters Prepare for Court, No Justice for Dead
* Accused 21 brought to capital
* 21 Strike Detainees Transferred to Prey Sar Prison Ahead of Trial
* 23 arrested during violent clashes to appear at court this week
* Cambodia: End the prosecution of 23 workers and human rights defenders

20140425
* Factories Mostly Skip Minimum Wage Meeting
* Trial for 23 finally under way
* Concerns ahead of trial for 23
* Cambodian court starts trials of 21 labor activists arrested in January clashes
* Trial begins in Phnom Penh for Cambodian workers seeking better wages
* Trials for 23 Cambodian labor activists adjourned to May 6

20140426
* Mass Trials of Garment Protesters Commence
* Cambodia court opens massive trial of protesters amid heavy security
* Union Leader Appeals Court Orders Restricting His Activities
* Trumped-up charges and restrictions against Cambodian union leader must be dropped at once
* GMAC Boycotts Workshop on Minimum Wages

20140428
* Anger grows as ‘23’ trial begins
* Bavet protest: No-strike bonus offer backfires
* Bavet City Garment Strikes Gain Momentum
* Cambodia’s garment manufacturers calls on gov’t to curb illegal strikes
* City rejects May Day location

20140429
* 10,000 Workers Still Striking for Bonus Pay
* Strike closes most Bavet factories
* Garment strikes in Cambodia’s Bavet City continue Monday
* Cambodian garment workers strike over $50 bonus

20140430
* Bavet factories close as protest continues
* Uneasy Calm In Bavet as Factories Ordered Shut

20140501
* Arrest as Bavet strike goes on
* Police Make Arrest, File Complaints in Bavet Strike
* Violence as demonstration ban defied
* On Labor Day, Peaceful Protests Met With Violence
* International Workers’ Day 2014
* Unions Plan to Defy Protest Ban, Hold Rally
* Capital bans marches for Labour Day and beyond
* Freedom Park Locked Down Ahead of Labor Day
* Cambodia bans trade unions from marking May Day at capital’s Freedom Park

* Bystander savagely beaten
* Remarks by the ILO for May 1st 2014
* Brutal police crackdown on Cambodia May Day rally
* CCHR condemns prolonged ban on public assembly
* May Day rallies demand reform; 5 hurt in Cambodia

20140502
* Labor Minister Says Solution to Bavet Strike in the Works
* Minister urges end to strike

20140503
* Twenty-One Men Detained After Strikes Seek Bail for Fifth Time

20140505
* Bavet Factories Reopen After Strike, But Pay Dispute Lingers
* Bavet strike ends at all but 2 factories
* Thousands of Cambodian garment workers end strike over bonus
* Military might: Soldiers put end to Veng Sreng strike

20140506
* Trial continues: Workers to gather at court house
* Protest Planned for 2nd Day Of Garment Protest Trials
* Spotlight on Cambodian Government Brutality
* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day two
* Phnom Penh court under tight security during questioning 25 protesters
* News Flash: Cambodian trial adjourned
* Trials of 23 Cambodian labor activists adjourned again

20140507
* ‘The 23’ put police on trial
* Garment Protest Trial Defendants Deny Charges

20140508
* After 2nd Adjournment, Speedy Trial for 23 Protesters Unlikely

20140509
* Supreme Court denies bail to 21 rights defenders and workers
* Cambodian top court denies to free 23 detained protesters on bail
* For union leader on run, militant attitude prevails

20140510
* Fifth Bail Request Denied for Vorn Pao, 20 Other Detainees
* Cambodia’s Low Cost Garment Industry: Sustainable for Whom?

20140512
* Cambodian Garment Workers Call for Justice

20140515-16
* Wage talk for workers to be resumed next week
* Workers fired after strike
* Nearly 850 protests this year: police

20140517
* Injured garment worker beaten during January’s clampdown died early this morning from unknown causes

20140518
* Veng Sreng beating victim dies

20140519
* Worker Beaten on Veng Sreng in January Dies of Head Injuries
* Protester injured at rally dies
* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day three
* Cambodia among the worst countries on the new ITUC Global Rights Index

20140520
* Trial for 23 to resume amid rally
* Five Months On, Witnesses Recall Muon Sokmean’s Beating
* Clashes break out, injuring four people as 23 protesters on trial
* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day three
* Cambodia: US Training of Abusive Military Exposed
* News flash: Cambodian trial continues tomorrow

20140521
* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day four
* Defendants cut off as 23’s trial goes on
* Union Leader Details Beating By Soldiers
* Worker rights ‘stack up poorly’
* Training under fire
* Rights Group Says US Military Support Breaches Congress Bill
* Workers & Political Activists under Attack

20140522
* ”Free the 23” Trial – Day five
* Union Leader Rejects Video, Photo Evidence
* Judge brings own evidence
* Supporters stand with the 23 on fifth day Cambodian trial
* Trial of Cambodian labor activists ends, verdict expected on May 30
* Free the 23 verdict: 30th May

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

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