Factory Truck Crashes Into Protesting Workers, Injuring Four

A man was arrested Thursday after he plowed his truck into a group of protesting workers at a South Korean-owned garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, seriously injuring four women, one of whom was pregnant, officials said.

About 500 workers from the S.H. International garment factory in Pur Senchey have been on strike since May 28 after the South Korean manager abandoned the factory without paying workers for the month of May, said Hing Bunthoeun, vice president of the Khmer Union Federation of Workers Spirit.

On Thursday morning, about 100 garment workers were blocking the gate to the factory when a company representative appeared with an injunction from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordering them to return to work, angering the group further, said Phann Yoeun, 36, who was among the protesters.

“They called us back to work, but no one paid us. How can we work?” she said.

The injunction also orders the factory to pay the workers a legal salary, but does not say whether the factory failed to pay previous wages.

Shortly after the court order was delivered, Ms. Yoeun said, a factory truck carrying sewing machines attempted to drive out of the gate, but workers surrounded the vehicle.

“The workers blocked the truck, but the driver would not listen and then he crashed into the workers,” she said, adding that the workers then closed the gate, trapping the truck and driver inside the factory.

“If we had not locked the gate, maybe dozens of other workers would have been killed or injured,” she said.

District penal police chief Chea Sovann said all four injured workers were transferred to the local Chumpou Voan health clinic and, as of 7 p.m. last night, two were still unconscious and the other two were awake but unable to move.

Mr. Sovann said police arrested the 22-year-old driver, Kim Sat, shortly after the incident and were still questioning him at the district police station Thursday evening.

“We are still investigating whether the company or someone ordered him to do it,” Mr. Sovann said. “Maybe we will send him to the municipal court tomorrow to face charges.”

Mr. Bunthoeun, the union leader, said he filed a complaint with district police accusing both the factory and driver of attempted murder over the incident.

“I cannot accept what the company did because they did not pay the workers and tried to kill them,” he said.

Representatives from S.H. International could not be reached for comment.

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