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After brawl, workers can go

Cambodian workers seeking to leave a seafood factory in Thailand following a lethal brawl with counterparts from Myanmar were given their passports and salaries on Monday, a representative said.

Phon Jam said 800 Cambodian workers at the Siam International Food Co Ltd factory in Songkhla province were paid their salaries and savings, which for about half of them was enough to afford the trip home.

“They will go back to their homeland because they are afraid of fighting with the Burmese and they want to wait for a suitable time,” he said.

While longtime workers had received payouts totalling as much as 30,000 to 40,000 baht (US$950 to $1,267), enabling them to leave, 400 others had received much smaller sums leaving them stranded in Thailand, Phon Jan said.

About 200 of those workers had been moved to a nearby factory and began work yesterday, with the remaining 200 due to start working at the new location today, he added.

Cambodian Sar Seiha, 19, from Prey Veng province, and a Burmese man were reportedly killed during the clash between workers from Cambodia and Myanmar last Monday.

After the incident Cambodian workers refused to return to work.

The director of International Food’s Songkhla factory, Wattichai Wattathan, declined to comment, referring questions to Cambodian Ambassador You Ay, who did not respond to inquiries by press time.

You Ay said on Tuesday that she had visited the factory on Saturday and that the antagonism between the Cambodian and Myanmar workers was very difficult to solve, before declining to comment further.

One of Siam International Food’s buyers is Bumble Bee Foods LLC in the US, which buys canned, unfrozen tuna, according to data from the online shipping monitor website ImportGenius.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sen David at david.sen@phnompenhpost.com

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