86 Cambodian workers hurt in truck accident

AP News
Posted: Feb 04, 2014 7:05 AM

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A truck overturned Tuesday as it was taking 93 workers to Cambodian factories that make garments and sports shoes for famous Western brands. At least 86 of the workers were injured.

Transporting workers in open trucks is common in Southeast Asia, but Svay Rieng provincial governor Chieng Am said has ordered police to stop overloading trucks and to inspect their condition.

He said 11 of the injured workers were in critical condition. The truck rolled over after a front tire burst.

Labor activist Chea Odom of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers said the workers were employed at eight factories in two specially designated industrial zones. He said the factories make sports shoes and apparel for well-known Western companies.

The garment industry is Cambodia's biggest export earner, employing about 500,000 people in more than 500 garment and shoe factories. In 2013, the Southeast Asian country shipped more than $5 billion worth of products to the United States and Europe.

In recent months, there has been unrest as workers have sought to have the minimum wage doubled to $160 a month. Four people were shot dead and 23 others arrested when police cracked down on a demonstration last month.

"The Cambodian government should ensure that garment factories stop intimidating and threatening workers seeking to form unions and assert their labor rights," the New York-based group Human Rights Watch said Monday. "The government should cease banning public demonstrations and using security forces to disperse worker protests, and instead enforce the country's labor laws."