Unionists questioned after ‘illegal protests’

Around 70 workers stand outside the offices of Prime Minister Hun Sen's cabinet in Phnom Penh earlier this week demanding the release of the four jailed unionists. National Police
Around 70 workers stand outside the offices of Prime Minister Hun Sen's cabinet in Phnom Penh earlier this week demanding the release of the four jailed unionists. National Police

Four unionists from the Cosmo Textile garment factory in Kandal province accused of starting an illegal protest were questioned by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, but their lawyer said the interrogation was not in line with court procedures because he was not informed.

Two of the unionists were first dismissed by the factory for failing to stamp their timecards, a claim denied by the pair. After organising a strike in the factory, they were summonsed to Kandal Provincial Court and arrested along with a fellow unionist. The next day another worker was arrested.

Keo Vanny, a lawyer for the workers, said he had informed the court he was representing the quartet but wasn’t notified of the questioning, nor had he been given a copy of the case file.

“I am supposed to get a copy of the case file. Instead the court clerk just made an excuse that he did not have the file, and that it was with the prosecutor,” he said.

While he hadn’t met his clients after the questioning, he hoped that they did not provide any responses without their legal representation.

Seang Sambath, president of the Workers Friendship Union Federation, confirmed that the four did not provide answers in court.

“We also want to request bail, but the point is we don’t have the case file. So now we can’t do that,” he said.

Since the dismissals and arrests, more than 100 employees have refused to work at the factory, but worker Ou Chamnan said that the Arbitration Council on February 20 had instructed workers to resume their work while it deliberated the dismissals