Cambodian police free 3 detained workers in clash

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-12-27 17:15:33

Cambodian anti-riot police on Friday released three striking workers who were involved in a brief clash at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Friday morning, police and rights group said.

The clash between anti-riot police and striking workers left at least three police officers and four workers injured.

"We just detained them a few hours for education; then, we released them," Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, told Xinhua.

The clash happened when a few thousand striking workers blocked the national road in front of the zone on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and hurled stones at police and factories, he said.

"These were illegal acts, we have to crack down on them, we could not allow them to cause anarchy and chaos," he said, adding that as of Friday afternoon, workers are still blocking the road.

According to a Xinhua's photojournalist who was at the scene, about 500 anti-riot police officers are deployed to protect the zone while around 2,000 striking workers are continuing their blockade of the National Road No. 4 in front of the zone.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for the rights group Licadho, said at least four workers were injured by police batons.

"Now, they're still confronting each other. We're concerned that the situation will get worse if there is no any solution," he told Xinhua over telephone.

Meanwhile, several thousand other workers have gathered in front of the Ministry of Labor in Phnom Penh to demand that the government double their wages from 2014.

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

Those striking workers have been led by pro-opposition trade unions and the opposition party.

Garment industry, the country's largest foreign currency earner, comprises about 500 factories employing some 510,600 workers. The sector earned 5 billion US dollars in the first 11 months of this year.

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

"If the workers are working in the factories, some bad elements among 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," a GMAC's statement said. "It is safer if there are no workers in the factories."

The government on Tuesday decided to raise garment workers'

minimum monthly wage to 95 US dollars from April onwards from the current 80 dollars, but the pro-opposition trade unions said the increase is too low to accept.

Sam Rainy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party ( CNRP), 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 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 to call for Prime Minister Hun Sen to step down and hold a re- election.

"If the Cambodia National Rescue Party comes to power, we will increase the workers' wage to 160 US dollars per month," Sam Rainsy made the promise to the protesting workers.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said last Friday that he would neither step down nor call a re-vote since he has done nothing wrong.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

blog comments powered by Disqus