Union leader in court over strike

The Phnom Penh Post - - NATIONAL - Kim Sarom

THE Ap­peal Court on Thurs­day heard the case of a trade union leader who has been sued by one of the King­dom’s largest brew­ers for lead­ing a strike in Preah Si­hanouk prov­ince in 2016.

Demo­cratic Work­ers Union pres­i­dent Khem Mao was or­dered by the lower court in Au­gust 2016 to pay $3,000 in com­pen­sa­tion to Cam­brew, the par­ent com­pany of Angkor Beer, for his al­leged in­volve­ment in a walk­out by around 100 work­ers.

Mao ap­pealed the de­ci­sion, claim­ing the strike on Au­gust 20 that year, which cen- tred around the dis­missal of an­other union leader at the com­pany, started at 6am, an hour be­fore he ar­rived at work.

After the firm re­jected their de­mand to re­in­state Lim Roth, the work­ers ap­proached Mao, who then met with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the com­pany and the provin­cial depart­ment of labour.

With no so­lu­tion in sight, the case was for­warded to the Ar­bi­tra­tion Coun­cil, which ruled in the work­ers’ favour. The com­pany, how­ever, re­fused to re­in­state Mao, prompt­ing the work­ers to re­sume their strike un­til Au­gust 23.

At his trial on Thurs­day, Mao main­tained his in­no­cence, say­ing: “I did not lead the walk­out.The work­ers went on strike be­cause the com­pany sacked their leader Lim Roth. As for the $3,000 com­pen­sa­tion, I can’t af­ford to pay be­cause I’m just a worker.”

In its law­suit filed at the Preah Si­hanouk provin­cial court, the com­pany said the strike had dis­rupted its pro­duc­tion work­flow and de­manded $60,000 in com­pen­sa­tion.

Angkor Beer’s de­fence lawyer Cheav Tola said that al­though the walk­out be­gan be­fore Mao ar­rived at work, he was seen hold­ing loud­speak­ers later dur­ing the strike.

The court will hand down its ver­dict on De­cem­ber 27.

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