Garment workers from City Spark Cambodian Co Ltd in Por Senchey district yesterday filed a complaint with police alleging that the company hired gangsters to break up a protest for better working conditions on Tuesday.
Nhang Sambo, president of Khmer Help Khmer Union Federation, said yesterday that on Tuesday evening, more than 500 garment workers of the company in Kantok commune staged a protest outside the factory to demand better working conditions and for the company to allow them to form a union.
“The workers could not tolerate the company’s refusal to let them form a union to push for better working conditions so they came out to protest against it,” he said.
Mr Sambo said that during the protest, nearly ten gangsters armed with sticks and hoes attacked them, but no one was injured seriously.
“A few workers were slightly injured after the gangsters hit them,” he said. “The gangsters came to break up the protest and later left the area, leaving behind the sticks and hoes.”
Mr Sambo said that the workers claimed that the company had hired the gangsters to break up the protest and decided to ask police to intervene.
A worker, who did not wish to be identified, yesterday said that they protested to demand money for rice and for the company to let them set up a union.
“We wanted the protest to be peaceful, but while we were picketing, a group of gangsters came to disturb us,” she said. “We need a local union in the company to protect us and help us to demand for our rights.”
She added that the gangsters pushed several workers to the ground and some were injured on the hands and abdomens.
Mr Sambo said that the union, workers and the company are now discussing the attack and also their demands for a union and better working conditions, but so far there is no solution.
On Teng, commune police chief, yesterday said that police received the complaint from the workers and are now looking for suspects. He noted that some workers took photographs of the gangsters who attacked them.
Mr Teng said that when the attack took place, police came to intervene but the gangsters fled, leaving behind their weapons.
“As for their demand for better working conditions, we suggest that they negotiate the issue with the company,” he said. “We can only act in relation to the violence and are searching for suspects.”
Officials from City Spark, which produces bags, handbags and wallets, could not be reached for comment yesterday.