Exactly 1,000 Votes Cast in NagaWorld Union Vote, Chhim Sithar Re-Elected: Union

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NagaWorld union members fill out paperwork as part of the organization’s week-long leadership election, April 26, 2022. (Keat Soriththeavy/VOD)

Ten days of voting for the leadership of the NagaWorld union ended with exactly 1,000 voters and current president Chhim Sithar re-elected, a unionist said.

The union had raised concerns about failing to reach 50% turnout and having its renewal application rejected by the Labor Ministry. Sithar said last week that the union had around 2,100 members, but it did not know the exact number due to contested mass layoffs.

Workers have been protesting nearly every day since December over more than 1,300 workers being selected for termination. The workers allege union leaders and activists were targeted.

Unionist Sun Sreypich said on Monday that the union leadership vote ran for 10 days through Sunday — three days longer than initially planned — and reached exactly 1,000 voters.

“We had enough now. We just wanted more than that,” Sreypich said, despite the possible failure to reach the turnout target.

The union would submit the results to the Labor Ministry on May 4 or 5, Sreypich said. The next round of ministry-mediated negotiation between union and company is scheduled for the earlier of those dates.

She added that if the ministry rejected the results, the union would try posting and emailing them to the ministry.

Every voter chose three candidates on their ballots, and Sithar received 987 votes to be re-elected president, Sreypich said. Her sister, Chhim Sokhorn, received 774 votes to be elected vice president, a promotion from secretary.

Kleang Sobin and Kheng Chanda were elected secretary and treasurer, respectively, Sreypich said.

The workers’ demonstrations have continued, including 104 protesters turning out on Sunday outside NagaWorld 2 and again being put on buses, according to worker Nuon Sreyneth.

Sreyneth added that she was among several protesters who experienced violence from authorities that day.

“The authorities pushed us back and forth. When we did not get up [onto the bus], they started throwing us,” she said. “I fell on the ground.”

Phnom Penh police spokesman San Sokseyha said police always tried to be peaceful, but protesters would not cooperate.

“The authorities always call out or invite them to get in the bus … but the protesters always create a scene by pushing the officers,” he said, adding that the protesters disrupted traffic and nearby vendors.

Updated at 7:50 p.m. with details of alleged protest violence.

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