Riot at Garment Factory Leaves 11 Injured

Nine garment workers and two Chinese managers were injured on Friday in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district after a riot broke out among 300 workers protesting for higher wages and improved working conditions, officials said Sunday.

Commune police chief Mao Sovann said workers at the SL Garment Factory in Stung Meanchey commune stormed the premises in the afternoon and destroyed more than 30 cars as well as computers and other machinery inside the factory.

“They also clashed with other employees inside the factory,” Mr. Sovann said. “The violence happened because the union leaders incited the workers to fight other workers and this destroyed the property of the factory.”

Workers from Singaporean-owned SL Garment Factory—which makes clothing for U.S. brands Levi’s and Gap—have been striking for more than a month to demand a lunch stipend, the reinstatement of fired union leaders and the firing of a company adviser called Meas Sotha, who has allegedly brought in plainclothes military officers to guard the factory.

Earlier this month, factory owners agreed to some of the workers’ concessions on the condition that staff returned to work.

Mr. Sotha said Sunday that as he is a shareholder in the factory he would not be resigning. The company will be filing a complaint against some the union leaders, he added.

“During the clash, 11 people were injured, including two Chinese nationals who were sent to a hospital in Singapore [on Saturday] as they were in serious condition,” Mr. Sotha said. “We will send [a report of all the damaged property] with a complaint to the court soon so that it can be managed according to the law.”

Lay Sophon, a 32-year-old factory worker who was present at the incident, said violence had occurred after workers continuing strike action began fighting with workers who had returned to their jobs.

“We need a solution from the company. They promised us a solution, but so far they have done nothing,” Mr. Sophon said.

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