Violence broke out twice yesterday at the Maru Chuen garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district – first, between police and strikers, and later, between strikers and employees who remained at work.
In the morning, seven workers and one police officer were injured after police intervened to stop workers from blocking several company cars from
entering the factory.
Worker Sun Leang, 24, said that police had used electric batons and stones to hit the protesters, injuring five women and two men, while workers threw stones back at police.
Blows from police bloodied his eye and nose, causing him to pass out, he said, adding that he woke up in hospital alongside two other workers with head injuries.
Worker Kan Srey Leak, who had not joined the strike, said the exchange also injured one police officer and damaged several cars and motorcycles nearby.
Workers Union Federation officer Tha Tory said company officials and police had started the violence, but an administrative officer at the factory, who asked not to be named, maintained that workers had been the initiators.
“We did not order the police officials to use violence against the workers,” she said.
WUF president Ly Veng said the more than 1,000 workers, who had been protesting since last week for a minimum wage increase and other benefits, had said they would return to work if the factory did not cut their wages for the days of their protest, but the factory had not accepted this demand, so the protest continued.
In the afternoon, protesters and the remaining half of the workforce that had not joined the strike began exchanging volleys of rocks, said union officer Tory, speaking to the Post by phone as stones began to sail.
The administrative officer said the flying stones injured six workers inside the factory, and that the factory’s management, worried for non-strikers safety, would accompany them home to protect them.
Mam Yoeun, acting Por Sen Chey district police chief, said yesterday that he had not yet heard about the violence at the factory.