A Change of Guard

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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Assembly off-limits to marchers on May Day

People hold placards yesterday morning at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium during a Labour Day rally. Hong Menea

Assembly off-limits to marchers on May Day
Mon, 2 May 2016 ppp
Sen David and Ananth Baliga

Two major International Workers’ Day marches proceeded peacefully yesterday, even as municipal and military police were deployed across the capital to monitor the situation.

The larger of the marches, held by the Cambodia Labour Confederation’s member unions, saw more than 1,000 workers march to the National Assembly only to find all roads leading to it blockaded.

“I am so sorry to see that the authorities did not allow us to parade, as every year we come to the National Assembly,” CLC president Ath Thorn said yesterday. “It shows the government threatens and is strict with unions and their workers.”

He added that a petition was submitted to the parliament, which included calls for a new minimum wage of $207, measures to increase worker safety. and for the government to refrain from using the recently passed trade union law to intimidate unions.

Another march, which included such prominent unions as the Cambodian Confederation of Unions and the Cambodian Alliance Trade Union, gathered at Olympic Stadium, though participants were unable to submit a similar petition to the Ministry of Land Management.

A heavy police presence ensured the group did not mingle with a nearby group of protesters outside the municipal court, who were decrying the arrest of rights workers in relation to the ongoing Kem Sokha scandal.

“There were many police to fence off the stadium, because they were afraid we would join the protest with Adhoc officials,” said Sovan Ka, a 28-year-old participant.

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