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Strikers claim police abuse

Strikers claim police abuse

Garment factory workers who set tyres ablaze during a strike on Friday claimed yesterday they were burned when police pushed them into their own fire.

Snguon Vannary was one of several workers who said his feet had been burned when police broke up the strike at Tae Young factory, in Ang Snuol province.

“[Police and military officers] tried to put out the fire by spraying water,” he said.

“When I tried to stop them, they pushed me and some other workers and we fell back onto the fire.”

“I am not afraid to keep striking to demand justice,” Vannary said. “We’ll keep doing it until they accept our demands.”

About 600 workers had gathered in front of the factory to demand their bosses reinstate 16 representatives and drop legal complaints filed against them.

Workers’ representative Un Bunkea, who the company has sacked and sued for incitement – demanding $60,000 in compensation – said workers continued to burn tyres Saturday until police stopped them.

“The police took them from us and threatened to beat the workers,” he said.

Bunkea said the workers’ demands also included better working conditions, a monthly $15 transport allowance and $15 per month for lunches.

Thach Phalla, Ang Snuol deputy district police chief, said his officials hadn’t threatened workers or shoved them into the fire.

“I went down to protect the area around their strike in case things turned violent,” he said. “It is their right to strike . . . but we also have the duty to protect public safety.”

Workers have vowed to continue striking and burning tyres today, and to march to the Ministry of Labour in the capital.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]

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