In response to the brutal attack on protesting workers on 06 February 2016, we, the undersigned trade unions, community representatives and civil society organizations (“CSOs”), declare our strong support for the ongoing boycott of Capitol Co. Ltd, also known as Capitol Tours, and call upon the general public to join the boycott in solidarity with the wrongfully dismissed Capitol employees, and the wider Cambodian trade union movement. Capitol Tours has relentlessly violated the labor rights and fundamental freedoms of its employees and we wish to unreservedly condemn the company’s actions.
Further, we wish to reiterate our condemnation of the brutal violence that occurred on 06 February 2016 committed by members of the Cambodia for Confederation Development Association (“CCDA”) in association with Capitol Tours, as well as the inaction of the police to prevent or stop the violence. We urge the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to take action to ensure that those actually responsible for this violence are held accountable according to the law, and that all unjust charges against innocent victims, bystanders and independent trade union leaders are dropped immediately.
Capitol Tours has determinedly denied its employees the freedom to form a union, as they are legally entitled to do. During the period leading up to 8 December 2015, Capitol Tours dismissed 45 employees after they supported and attempted to form a union in order to negotiate improved working conditions. Despite the Arbitration Council on 29 July 2015 instructing the Company to allow all workers back to their original work, along with a 31 July court injunction instructing workers to return to work within 48 hours, Capitol Tours has refused to comply with these legal procedures and has continued to harass those who seek to exercise their fundamental freedoms and labor rights. The dismissed bus drivers and other activists have since sustained a prolonged protest against Capitol Tours.
The recent violent incident occurred on 06 February 2016 outside Capitol Tours’ offices in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara District during a peaceful protest by approximately 50 bus drivers and their supporters. A group of around 50 tuk-tuk drivers brutally attacked the protestors with sticks, metal bars, hammers and a knuckleduster, leaving at least 14 people injured. The entire incident was recorded on film by human rights monitors. Despite the ferocity of the violence, the police failed to intervene and there are suggestions that some police officers participated in the violence. None of the attackers have been arrested while two of the victims were arrested during the protest and charged on 08 February 2016 with intentional violence, obstructing public officials and blocking traffic. On the same day, four prominent trade union leaders – Cambodian Labour Confederation (“CLC”) President Ath Thorn, CLC General-Secretary Kong Athit, Cambodian Informal Economy Workers Association (CIWA) President Sok Chhun Oeung, and Cambodian Transport Workers Federation (“CTWF”) Secretary Ean Kim Hong – were also charged with the same three offenses despite none of them being present at the incident on 06 February 2016.
The violence was directly perpetrated by tuk-tuk drivers associated with CCDA, which has a history of demonstrating against independent civil society groups. CCDA is closely connected to the RGC and to City Hall, which has helped it to secure a number of lucrative contracts with various companies, including Capitol Tours and Aeon Mall. CCDA has previously held demonstrations outside the offices of CSOs in response to their support for imprisoned Boeung Kak lake land rights activist Yorm Bopha. We believe that the actions taken by CCDA members on 06 February do not represent the will of the majority of ordinary members of the CCDA; therefore, we call upon all ordinary members of CCDA to condemn this violence and to hold the leadership of CCDA accountable for this brutal attack.
This recent incident highlights a number of worrying trends: the routine dismissal of employees who attempt to exercise their legal right to unionize; the use of proxy groups to commit brutal violence on behalf of companies; the authorities’ tacit approval of such violence by failing to intervene or prosecute the perpetrators of the violence; and the blatant defiance of Arbitration Council rulings. The judicial harassment of the four union leaders is also indicative of the RGC’s systematic suppression of the whole trade union movement. This is particularly concerning in light of Article 29 of the proposed Trade Union Law which would authorize the dissolution of a trade union for the “misconduct” of an individual leader.
We demand that companies such as Capitol Tours are held legally accountable for their violation of the labor rights and fundamental freedoms of their employees. We therefore urge the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and the RGC to ensure Capitol Tours does not enjoy impunity for its actions and that the rights of the victims are properly respected according to the rule of law. Until the following demands are satisfied, we urge the general public to join the boycott of Capitol Tours:
- 1. All charges against the six protestors and union leaders are immediately dropped;
- 2. Those responsible for the violent assault of the protestors are prosecuted;
- 3. The 45 dismissed bus drivers are reemployed at Capitol Tours with full pay backdated to the date of their dismissal.
Furthermore, we urge all members of the public to join this boycott in solidarity with the 45 fired Capitol workers, the victims of the brutal attack on February 6th, and the Cambodian labor movement as a whole.
This joint statement is endorsed by:
1. Affiliated Network for Social Accountability Cambodia (ANSA Cambodia) San Chey 012 445 642
2. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT) Srey Sotheavy 017 990 371
3. American Center for International Labor Solidarity (Solidarity Center) William Conklin 077 222 020
4. Bodinh Community Dy Sophana Marany 012 216 805
5. Boeung Kak Community Tep Vanny 012 604 648
6. Boeung Trabek Community Khut Bunthan 012 214 237
7. Borei Keila Community Chhay Kimhorn 017 522 303
8. Building Community Voice (BCV) Pry Phally Phuong 012 307 027
9. Cambodia Development People Life Association Ken Chhenglang 012 366 859
10. Cambodia Transportation Workers Federation (CTWF) Ean Kimhun 010 379253
11. Cambodian Alliance Trade Unions (CATU) Yang Sophorn 089 336 601
12. Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) Chhay Chhunly 017 528 021
13. Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) Pa Ngounteang 012 598 066
14. Cambodian Domestic Workers Network (CDWN) Yim Sothy 078 711 494
15. CAMBODIAN FOOD AND SERVICE WORKERS’ FEDERATION(CFSWF)Mr. Kong Rena 012 247 272
16. Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) Suon Bunsak 092 344 357
17. Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) Thun Saray 016 440 044
18. Cambodian Independent Civil-Servants Association (CICA) Khun Ran 016 909 383
19. Cambodian Informal Economic Workers Association Sok Chhun Leung 093 716 653 012 716 653
20. Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC) Ath Thorn 012 998 906
21. Cambodian League for the Promotion & Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) Mr. Pilorge Naly 012 803 650
22 Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) Mr. Tim Malay 017 990 689
23 Central Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL) Mr. Moeurn Tola 093 556 643
24. Coalition for Integrity & Social Accountability (CISA) Mr. Him Yun 012 947 022
25. Coalition of Cambodian farmer Community (CCFC) Theng Savoeun 015 225 088
26. Committee for Free and Fair Election in Cambodia (COMFREL) Koul Pahna 012 942 017
27. Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) Nhek Sarin 012 800 561
28. DAN Church Aid (DCA)
29. Diakonia Neva Thiounn 012 465 117
30. Former Boeung Kak Women Network Community Im Sreytouch 070 306 607
31. Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC) Ros Sopheap 012 627 857
32. Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF) Sia Phearum 012 852 325
33. Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economic (IDEA) Vorn Pao 012 534 796
34. Indigenous Youth at Brome Commune, Preah Vihear Province Lout Sang 097 456 6466
35. Indradevi Association (IDA) Dy Ratha 012 897 161
36. Khmer Youth Association (KYA) Sith Hong Eang 017 788 955
37. Land Community, I Village Preah Sihanouk Province Hang Chenda, 012 680 435
38. Land Community, Prek Chik Village, Koh Kong Province Phav Nieng 093 456 704
39 Lor Peang community, Kampong Chhnang Province Ms. Um sophy 078 705 936
40. Mother Nature Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson.
41. People Center for Development and Peace (PDP-Center) Yong Kim Eng 016 828 211
42. Ponlok Khmer Ang Cheatlom 012 517943
43. Railway Station, Toul Sangkae A community Sim Virake 069 907 983
44. Samakum Teang Tnaut (STT) Ee Sarom 012 836 533
45. SOS International AirPort Community Chray Nim 016 536 900
46. Star Kampuchea (SK) Chet Charya 012 802 460
47. Strey Khmer Organization (SKO) Arun Reaksmey 012 236 653
48. The Building and Wood Workers Trade Union (BWTUC) Sok Kin 012 736 270
49. The Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers Federation (CTSWF) Morm Rithy 012 411 755
50. Youth Resource Development Program (YRDP) Cheang Sokha 011 928 418
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