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Cambodia garment union blames violence on company

May 29, 2012 at 4:28 PM   |   Comments

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, May 29 (UPI) -- A union leader in Cambodia has blamed clothing maker SL Garment for violence that broke out at a factory.

The union official said the company was trying to provoke violence as part of a campaign to smear the union.

"This is the company's trick, to be willing to provoke … severe violence and put all mistakes entirely on the workers," said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union.

The Phnom Penh Post reported Tuesday about 5,000 union workers went back to work after a two-week strike at two Phnom Penh factories believing a document signed by the union, the government and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia Friday was a binding deal.

But the company backed away from the agreement after the workers returned to their jobs, the newspaper reported.

The agreement included pay for missing work during the strike and $7 per month for approved rent and travel expenses.

"In my years doing this sort of work, I've never come across a document which is thumb printed by all parties, the bona fide seal in Cambodia, and endorsed by a government representative, which refers to itself as an agreement within the document, but which after the fact is claimed to be no such thing," said Dave Welsh, country director of the American Center for International Labor Solidarity.

"The company said one thing and when implementing did the other -- this caused the workers to be angry and they continued their strike," union worker Rith Sineourn said.

The Post reported rocks were thrown at one factory and that one woman was hit in the head.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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