Global unions are calling on the Cambodian government to immediately drop “trumped up” charges levelled against a local garment union boss.

Ath Thorn, president of IndustriAll affiliate C.CAWDU, is facing criminal charges filed by SL Garment Processing for incitement to commit a felony, with a court order banning him from meeting SL Garment workers and people in a public gathering that could “damage public order”.

The court is also demanding that Thorn pay bail of US$25,000 by Thursday (1 May), IndustriAll says.

The charges revolve around allegations that Thorn incited violence at a protest at the SL Garment factory in September last year, but the union claims there is “no evidence” against him.

It also says that the charges contravene a settlement signed by Sat Sakmut, Deputy Secretary of State of the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, SL Garment and C.CAWDU in December last year, which agreed that no further legal charges should be filed in the matter.

“Not only are the charges against Ath Thorn groundless, but the restrictions placed upon him are a blatant violation of his right to freedom of association, and the demand for bail unjust,” said IndustriAll general secretary Jyrki Raina.

“We urge the Cambodian authorities to drop the charges and restrictions immediately.”