More than 100 garment factory workers were injured Thursday when police waded into a 2,000-strong crowd of strikers at the MSI Garment (Cambodia) Ltd factory in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district, union leaders said.
Dozens of members of the Intervention Police riot suppression unit fired bullets into the air and used batons to beat the strikers, who were protesting peacefully, said Morm Nhim, president of the National Independent Federation of Textile Unions of Kampuchea.
“Police are very cruel. They shot above the workers’ heads several times in order to threaten and break the workers from holding a peaceful assembly,” Morm Nhim said.
Striker Nhim Nhoeun, 24, was knocked unconscious by police and taken away, said Morm Nhim. Police later released Nhim Nhoeun after he was “educated” to cease inciting workers.
The MSI factory workers have been on strike since Sunday to demand that factory management reinstate Toeung Chanrin, 24, the union secretary-general who was suspended after being accused of stealing money.
Morm Nhim said she will complain to the Municipal Court about the police and factory management.
Dangkao district Deputy Police Chief Lim Uk defended his officers’ use of force, but denied anyone was beaten.
“We just prevented the workers from burning tires because the fire could spread to houses located near the factory,” Lim Uk said. “I understand the workers have the right to strike, but I have to prevent them doing anything wrong.”
An MSI staff member said by telephone on Thursday he was not aware of the incident, adding that management were not available for comment.