Business news : Cambodian workers hurt in Nike factory clash

Police with stun batons were called to end a protest over pay by 3,000 mostly female workers making clothes for the US firm

Kim Leap, 44, the mother of a worker who died during an accident in a shoe factory, cries near the coffin of her son in Kampong Speu province. 
Workers at a Nike factory in the province are now protesting over pay. Photograph: Samrang Pring/Reuters

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. They want the US sportswear firm, which employs more than 5,000 people at the plant, to give them $14 a month to help pay for transport, rent and healthcare costs on top of their $74 minimum wage.

Authorities declined to comment on the clash, saying they were still collecting reports. No immediate comment was available from Nike.

Source Reuters in Phnom Penh

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