Garment workers’ strike violently dispersed by police and union leaders arrested
On 29 November 2007 a peaceful strike by 2,000 garment workers was dispersed by a violent police attack and the arrest of four union leaders. The incident occurred at the Taiwanese-owned Fortune Garment and Woolen Knitting Company in Prek Khsev village in Kandal province. The striking workers were members of the Cambodian Garment Workers Democratic Union (CGWDU). When four union officials were arrested, beaten and kicked, a commotion broke out and workers threw stones and soil at police. Police responded by firing tear gas, firing shots into the air with assault rifles, and attacking the group of assembled workers with electric prods and batons. Many workers were hurt, including two women with severe injuries. Fortunately the four arrested leaders have since been released. CGWDU is now appealing for the international activist community to demand the Cambodian government discipline police who crack down on labor strikes, and compensate workers for their injuries.
Before the strike CGDWU—which represents 1,600 of the company’s 2,900 employees—had already engaged Fortune in negotiations facilitated by the Labour Arbitration Council. They had reached agreement on seven of 12 points of dispute, but management would not grant workers’ demands for 18 days of annual paid leave (required by law), bonuses for work attendance, salary based on piece rates rather than monthly standards, employment contracts, and the dismissal of the company’s arbitration officer. The strike came only after the necessary legal dispute resolution procedures had been followed.
Source: Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), 7 February 2008
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