|Written by May Titthara and Thomas Gam Nielsen|
|Friday, 23 January 2009|
Garment factory row turns violent over cuts to employees's bonuses.
SHE was trying to save a younger co-worker from police violence, but 40-year-old Chamroeun Chan got hit herself as police and protesting garment workers clashed in front of the Yong Wa garment factory in Kandal province Thursday.
"I saw that my young colleague had been hit by the police and had fallen down, so I tried to help him back up, but another policeman hurled stones at me," she said.
Chamroeun Chan was among thousands of garment workers from two factories protesting a reduction of their annual bonus from US$50 to $20.
"We want to bring the money back to the provinces for the Chinese New Year and the money now [offered] is too little," said Sokhum Molina,
23, adding that the workers had received the annual bonus since 1998.
Takhmao district police Deputy Chief Mun Chea said 100 police officers had been deployed in the area and that the workers had wounded themselves while throwing stones at the police. "[They] broke a mirror of a police car and damaged some property," he said.
Chea Nana, a senior monitor with local rights group Licadho, said garment worker representatives from different unions made a compromise of $30 with company owners, but that the protesters had declined the result.
"The workers said they would not accept anything less than the $50," he said, adding that protests were set to continue today.
Kandal governor provincial Chhun Sirun, declined to comment on the case Thursday, and the garment factory management could not be reached.