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High Court Hands Small Sum to Fired Leaders

Two union leaders are to receive small monetary compensation for unlawful firing by a Kampong Speu province factory, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The 8-year-old case of union leaders Lim Thida and Um Visal, fired from Cambodia Apparel Industry, was the first of its kind to reach the highest court, but the two leaders said after a hearing Monday the ruling could hurt the union structure within the factory.

The nine-judge panel of the court ordered $170 to Lim Thida and $150 Um Visal.

"The Supreme Court verdict has no justice and did not follow the labor law," Lim Thida said. "Because the dispute is not related to an individual or individual interests."

"If the Supreme Court does like this, it will destroy the union structure in the factory," she said.

The dispute stems from the firing of the two leaders by Cambodia Apparel Industry in 2000, in what workers say was a supression of the union. The firings of the Kampong Speu factory led to numerous strikes, demonstrations before the National Assembly, several clashes with police and at least three arrests.

"We are victims," Um Visal said Monday. "We need justice. We want the Supreme Court to provide justice to us, but the Supreme Court turned to provide us with regret, worry and concern about the effect to the trade union in the Cambodia Apparel Industry factory."