Three dead in Cambodia garment workers strike -report

By VCPOST Staff Reporter

Jan 03, 2014 09:46 AM EST

A police official said at least three people are dead and several wounded after police in Cambodia opened fire on Friday to break up a labor protest by striking garment workers.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting Cambodia police's Chuon Narin, said the three were killed and two wounded in a southern suburb of Phnom Penh when police fired AK-47 rifles at protesters. Narin is the deputy chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police.

The police opened fire after several hundred workers blocked a road south of the country's capital, burned tires and threw objects at the dispersal unit, the report said.

The workers are part of a nationwide strike demanding a doubling of the minimum wage to $160 a month. About 500,000 Cambodians are employed in the garment industry, the country's biggest export earner. Cambodia's government initially offered a minimum wage of $95 a month, WSJ said.

WSJ earlier reported that tens of thousands of workers from 120 garment factories skipped work on December 25, demanding a higher minimum wage. Workers were led by trade union Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union.  

Publicly-traded clothing companies Gap Inc, Nike Inc, Adidas AG and Puma AG are among the big brands that outsource manufacturing of apparel and footwear to Cambodian factories, in part due to the cheaper labor costs than China, Reuters said in a separate report. According to Cambodia's Ministry of Commerce, the country's garment export revenue over the past 11 months increased by 22% to $5.07 billion. 

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