Union to Hold 5,000-Strong March During CNRP Protest
By and | November 19, 2013

The president of the worker’s union that has led a three-month strike at the SL Garment Factory in Phnom Penh said Monday he would lead a march of 5,000 workers through the city on December 10 when the opposition CNRP also plans to hold its next mass demonstration.

CNRP President Sam Rainsy said on Sunday that the opposition party plans to hold mass demonstrations throughout the country early next month to demand an investigation into the lethal use of live ammunition by police at a violent protest by SL Garment Factory workers last Tuesday.

CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua said that December 10—International Human Rights Day—had been selected as the date of the demonstrations.

Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU), said that members from his union would also gather in Phnom Penh on Human Rights Day to march.

“We have a plan to march 5,000 workers. We are going to gather and march as we do every year,” he said.

Mr. Thorn added CCAWDU had not yet decided on a route for the march, or whether they would join the CNRP’s demonstration at Freedom Park afterward.

“I have to have a meeting to determine from where we will start and to where we will go,” he said, noting that last year workers marched from Wat Phnom to the National Assembly.

A number of unions held small rallies on Human Rights Day last year, while about 3,000 garment factory workers gathered at Freedom Park, where European Union Ambassador Jean-Francois Cautain gave a speech.

Mr. Thorn said CCAWDU’s march would not focus on an investigation into the shootings at last Tuesday’s protest and would focus instead on the union’s long-running demands.

“We want the employers, the government to increase the [garment worker] salary to $154 per month,” Mr. Thorn said.

He added that meal allowances, severance pay, an end to short-term work contracts and a general solution to the ongoing problems at the SL factory would also be CCAWDU’s focus in the marches.

Mr. Rainsy, who said on Sunday that CNRP leaders would meet to discuss and publicize the details of its demonstrations, could not be reached Monday.

CNRP lawmaker-elect Tioulong Saumura, Mr. Rainsy’s wife, said the opposition leader was not commenting further on his party’s demonstration plans.

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The year is 1945 and Cambodian men are packed into traditional longboats, ready to race each other in an event that “has been going on for more than 1,000 years” at the annual Water Festival in Phnom Penh.

CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha said during a radio interview this week that he will meet with senior officials in the U.S. Department of Defense during his 20-day visit to the U.S., seeking their support for an eventual CNRP-led government.

The National Election Committee on Friday said that political parties would be banned from setting up permanent campaign bases in the city during next month’s council elections.

Sao Sothy’s home is small and the furniture is sparse. There are no tables or chairs. In one room, there is a small bed, but her family of four sleeps on mats in the living room. Hanging on the otherwise bare walls is Ms. Sothy’s teacher’s certificate.

The Council of Ministers on Friday passed three long-awaited laws on the reform of the judiciary and will send them to the National Assembly early next week.

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