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Bavet ‘quiet’, factories operating after unrest

Military police form a line in front of protesting garment factory workers last week in Bavet near a special economic zone.
Military police form a line in front of protesting garment factory workers last week in Bavet near a special economic zone. AFP

Bavet ‘quiet’, factories operating after unrest

Garment workers in the Svay Rieng border town of Bavet went to their factories in droves for the first day of the workweek yesterday, on the heels of unrest that has rocked the town for almost two weeks.

“There were no protests, everything was quiet,” said Rex Lee, manager of the Manhattan Special Economic Zone, one of the two SEZs, along with the smaller Tai Seng SEZ, affected by the unrest. “All of the factories are operating.”

Workers striking over what they considered an insufficient increase to the minimum wage have repeatedly clashed with police since mass strikes began on December 16, with injuries alleged on both sides.

A total of 11 workers have been arrested in connection with the violence.

Last Tuesday, provincial officials pledged to release four workers arrested on December 18 on bail in a bid to smooth tensions. However, the four remain detained.

Lee, the Manhattan manager, said workers have remained quiet due to the arrests and fears that further strikes would cut into salaries, adding that about 600 police were still patrolling the area.

“[Protesters] said they would avenge [the arrested workers], but nothing happened.”

Ros Tharith, provincial administration director, said the additional police would remain in Bavet until the situation was fully stabilised.

He added that there were no updates on the promised release of the four workers.

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