Cambodian workers hurt in Nike factory clash
At least 23 workers were hurt in Cambodia on Monday when police using stun batons moved in to end a protest over pay at a factory that makes clothing for Nike, a trade union representative said. Police with riot gear were deployed to move about 3,000 mostly female workers who had blocked a road outside their factory, owned by Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing, in Kampong Speu province, west of Phnom Penh.
According to the International Monetary Fund, clothing accounted for 75% of Cambodia’s total exports of $5.22bn (£3.45bn) in 2011. Low-cost labour has attracted manufacturers making clothes and shoes for western brands but strikes over pay and working conditions have become common. This month, two workers were killed at a factory making running shoes for Asics when part of a warehouse fell in on them. A series of deadly incidents at factories in Bangladesh, including the collapse of a building last month that killed more than 1,000 people, has focused global attention on safety in Asian factories. Sun Vanny, president of the Free Trade Union at Sabrina, said the workers making the Nike clothing had been staging strikes and protests since 21 May.
RMG workers blockade roads for wage hike
Ready-made garment (RMG) workers took to the city streets of Kalabagan and Mirpur’s Shewrapara on Monday and blockaded roads for hours demanding attendance incentive and hike in their wages and in protest against relocation of a unit. Nearly 300 workers of Basundhara Garment Limited blocked roads at Kalabagan for nearly three hours from 11am protesting the shifting of the unit to a new location. “Several hundred agitating workers of Misami Bitopi Garments took to Begum Rokeya Sarani at Purba Shewrapara demanding attendance incentive and hike in their wages at around 9:30 am,” said Kafrul Police Station officer-in-charge Kazi Wazed Ali.
A section of workers of Misami Bitopi Garments alleged that the factory owner refused to pay attendance incentive to those who work as sewing machine helpers and iron-men. They claimed that sewing machine operators and workers of quality and cutting sections have been enjoying Tk 500 as attendance incentive a month. They also demanded Tk 600 as tiffin fees. The authorities have cancelled operation for Monday. The traffic movement on the roads came to a halt for around three hours following the protest. Hundreds of vehicles were seen stuck up in long queues that stretched several kilometres.
On information, additional police and members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) rushed to the scene and pursued the agitating workers to free the road, the OC said. The protest in Basundhara Garment Limited started when the workers of the factory saw a notice saying that the unit would be shifted to Hemayetpur in Savar on the outskirts of the capital on June 20. Fearing losing their job, the agitating workers took to the street from 11am.
“They are protesting against shifting of factory from Kalabagan,” Kalabagan Police Station officer-in-charge Enamul Haque told The Financial Express (FE). The workers alleged that the authorities hung the notice only 24 days before its shifting. They also claimed that according to the rules, the authorities of a factory will have to inform the staff at least three months before its shifting. However, it was not yet clear why the factory was being relocated.
Kwara Poly students protest colleague’s shooting by police
Students of the Kwara Polytechnic in Ilorin yesterday protested an alleged shooting of one of their colleagues by the police. The students barricaded major roads in the city with bonfires. Mostly affected were the commercial Murtala Mohammed Way, Maraba and Post Office/Station where they engaged the police in a fight. A police escort attached to a bullion van owned by a first generation bank was said to have fired a shot at a taxi cab, but the bullet hit the student on the leg. The protest, which started at about 2:10pm, lasted for three hours. The protest paralysed commercial and social activities in the areas. Narrating the incident, a student, who gave his name as Abodunrin John, said: “The victim was alighting from the taxi cab when the policeman aimed at the tyre of the cab. “Unfortunately for the student, Ahmed Dayo, a National Diploma (ND) student in the Department of Accounting, was hit instead.
He sustained severe injury on the leg and was rushed to the hospital” It was learnt that immediately the incident happened, the driver of the bullion van sped away ostensibly to escape being lynched by the victim’s aggrieved colleagues. As at the time of filing this report, a team of police and military men have stormed the area to prevent the situation from escalating. The victim was, however, said to have been transferred to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital for adequate medical attention. Reacting to the incident, the Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Agboola Glover-Oshodi, said the trigger- happy policeman had been arrested. He promised that the appropriate action would be taken on the incident. Mr. Glover-Oshodi added: “We are trying to calm the situation.”