Brief clash leaves 3 police injured, 3 striking workers detained in Cambodia

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-12-27 13:20:59

A short clash between anti-riot police and striking garment workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Friday morning left three military police officers injured and three workers detained, a spokesman said.

"They blocked the national road in front of the zone and hurled stones at factories," Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, told Xinhua after the incident. "These were illegal acts, we have to crack down on them, we could not allow them to cause anarchy and chaos."

He said three of the police officers got wounded on heads by stones and three workers were detained for inquiry."

Since Wednesday, tens of thousands of garment workers in hundreds of factories have walked out of work in protest against the low wage hike for 2014.

Those striking workers have been leading by pro-opposition trade unions and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

The garment industry, Cambodia's largest foreign currency earner, comprises about 500 factories employing some 510,600 workers. The sector earned 5 billion US dollars in the first eleven months of this year.

The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) on Thursday asked all factories to temporarily stop production operations this week due to concerns over security and safety.

"GMAC executives strongly suggest all members to stop operation for a whole of this week and let the workers stay home," said a GMAC statement sent to its members by e-mail.

"If the workers are working in the factories, some bad elements of the demonstrators will go around and destroy your factories' gates and properties in order to force the workers out to join the demonstration to demand the wage of 160 US dollars," it said. " It is safer if there are no workers in the factories."

The statement said the GMAC is working with the government on how to deal with the situation.

The GMAC statement came after tens of thousands of garment workers in various factories have gone on strike since Wednesday, a day after the government decided to raise a monthly minimum wage for a garment worker to 95 US dollars from April onwards from the current 80 US dollars, but the pro-opposition trade unions said the increase is too low to accept.

Sam Rainy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, who has led a new round of daily protests against Prime Minister Hun Sen's government since Dec. 15 following July's disputed election, has incited the striking workers to join his anti-government protests.

On Thursday, he led around 18,000 striking garment workers and anti-government activists through streets in capital Phnom Penh in order to call for Prime Minister Hun Sen to step down and hold a reelection.

"If the Cambodia National Rescue Party comes to power, we will increase the worker's wage to 160 US dollars per month," Sam Rainsy promised to the protesting workers on Thursday.

Defense Minister Tea Banh on Thursday urged all protesters to respect the rights of others and warned to take legal action if they tried to cause social instability.

"According to the nation's constitution, everyone has his/her own rights in politics," he told reporters. "But one must use his/ her rights with the respect for the rights of the others."

"We will not allow anyone to create social unrest," he said.

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