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Armed police crack down on protest

Three women were slightly injured while participating in a strike of about 500 workers outside the Zongtex Garment Factory in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district yesterday, a union representative said yesterday.

Suos Sokha, head of the Rights and Profit Workers Federation of Trade Unions, said yesterday the workers had been protesting against the dismissal of four of their representatives without any reason last Thursday, when about 20 armed police arrived.

“The girls’ hands were scratched and they had lumps on their heads and another police officer slapped one of their backs with his hand,” he said, adding police had pushed them into a mounted umbrella.

Workers were also demanding the company respect an Arbitration Council ruling handed down on June 19 asking the factory owner to pay each worker US$4.50 to cover the cost of a medical check, he said.  

Zongtex’s administration chief, who only gave her name as Chheng, said the company would solve the dispute but declined to giver further comment. Va Yuvavadhana, chief of the Ministry of Labour’s bureau of labour, said police were legally entitled to break up the workers’ protest.

“The four workers ended a three-month contract already and the company informed the ministry of their dismissal correctly,” he said.

He would file an application today requesting the Arbitration Council order the protestors return to work, which would have to be respected if approved, he added.

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