[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific

Police fire warning shots at Cambodia protest

Shots fired after police try to move striking garment workers off a road in the capital, officials and activists say.

Last updated: 27 Dec 2013 08:08
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Garment workers demand a higher minimum wage and resignation of the PM [EPA]

Cambodian police have fired warning shots at a brief clash with striking garment workers demanding higher wages, a state official and a local rights group have said.

Thousands of Cambodian factory workers, led by opposition leader Sam Rainsy, have been demonstrating in the capital of Phnom Penh for weeks now, calling for a higher minimum wage and for resignation of Hun Sen, the prime minister.

The violence broke out when military police tried to move the workers off a road on the outskirts of the capital Phnom Penh, according to Am Sam Ath of Licadho, a local rights group.

The workers then threw rocks at the authorities who fired "many warning shots" into the air and hit protesters with their batons, he told AFP news agency. Several people on both sides were reportedly injured.

With tens of thousands of garment workers on strike on Friday across the country, activists voiced fears of further violence.

"There are a lot of workers and if authorities use force against them, the violence would spread," Am Sam Ath said, urging unionists and authorities to hold talks to settle the problem.

'We had to prevent them'

The security forces said they were forced to act after workers damaged factory property.

"Because they used violence, we had to prevent them," military police spokesman Kheng Tito told AFP.

"If we did not fire warning shots into the air, they would have totally destroyed the economic zone."

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, blamed authorities for the latest clash.

"We strongly condemn the authorities for the violence against workers who are demanding an appropriate wage," he said.

Disputes over wages and safety conditions are common in Cambodia's huge garment industry which supplies famous brands like Gap, Nike and H&M.

The government announced earlier this week that the monthly minimum wage for garment workers would be increased from $80 to $95 starting from April next year. The workers are demanding a minimum wage of $160 per month in 2014.

The sector employs about 650,000 people and is a key source of foreign income for the impoverished country.

354

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.