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Beverage Union Finds No Recognition at Labor Ministry

Cambodian garment workers shout slogans behind barbed wire set up by police near the Council of Ministers building during a rally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Dec. 30, 2013. The workers are demanding a raise in their monthly salary from US $160 to $80. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
The Ministry of Labor has for a third time rejected the application of a new union, one for the Angkor Beverage Company.

Sar Mora, head of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation, told VOA Khmer he suspects the rejection is related to the workers’ support of labor protests in January demanding a higher minimum wage.

The proposed union submitted its application on Jan. 5, two days following a deadly crackdown on labor demonstrators in Phnom Penh that left at least four people dead.

“So far, we’ve always adhered to the principles of impartiality, and we were involved in and supported the wage demonstrations and strikes of the garment workers,” Sar Mora said. “So I think this led to the discrimination from the ministry of our unions and the rejection of the registration.”

Heng Sour, a spokesman for the Ministry of Labor, said the application may not be complete and suggested the union consult with the labor dispute department.

Sok Sam Ouen, head of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said a rejection without reason was not lawful. A union that is not legally recognized is subject to legal risks, he said.