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Several hurt as workers storm plant

Several Chinese managers and two female workers from the Juhui Footwear factory in Kampong Cham’s Cheng Prey district sustained minor injuries yesterday when striking workers stormed onto factory grounds, hurling projectiles, police said.

About 3,000 workers have been protesting for more than a month and have demanded lunch allowances and overtime payment.

District police chief Heng Vuthy said workers threw projectiles at the company representatives when they came out of their office to negotiate.

“We have a few fire trucks to crack down on the demonstrators, but we remained restrained,” he said, adding that about 100 mixed security officers armed with shields and batons had been deployed to the scene. “We did not take any measures to crack down. We tried to compromise in order to let the two sides negotiate a peaceful solution.”

While Vuthy said the managers were only slightly injured, a factory representative who declined to be named said that about 10 Chinese nationals had been injured.

“Most of the workers threw rocks at us. They received injuries to their heads, face, arms and bodies,” the representative said.

Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union labour dispute officer Khun Sokhom, who joined fruitless negotiations between the union and management after the clash, said workers acted in self-defence. “This had been a nonviolent protest. The [managers] pushed the workers [first].”

Sokhom said the factory was ignoring a court order to reinstate 500 workers whose contracts were terminated last month for joining protests. “The factory received a letter from the provincial court ordering them to take back the workers, but they have not.”

Negotiations are to resume on Friday.

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