Dozens of Myanmar garment workers were injured on Monday (Oct 15) after a clash with assailants wielding iron bars outside a Chinese-owned factory in Yangon. The workers say they were attacked by a mob of “hired thugs” after protesting.
The predominantly female workers started picketing the Chinese-owned Fu Yuen Garment Co Ltd factory in Yangon nearly two months ago over alleged poor conditions and mistreatment. They were also demanding the reinstatement of 30 sacked workers.
But after eight weeks one of the protest leaders, Than Than Soe, told AFP that around “40 thugs” set upon them early on Monday morning. “The thugs came and started to beat us with wooden sticks and metal bars,” she said as cited from channelnewsasia.com.
“Twenty-eight people were wounded, six seriously,” she said, adding that all but one of the injured were women.
The violence then escalated further as local people hurled rocks and sticks at the factory, smashing several windows. Some two dozen riot police were deployed to keep back the angry crowd gathering outside the factory gates in Dagon Seikkan township on the outskirts of Yangon.
Police blamed workers for the violence, saying in a statement a fight had broken out after a small group urged employees still working at the factory to participate in the protest.
“Both groups have an argument and violence happened,” the statement said as cited from Reuters.com
Win Myint, an officer from Dagon Seikkan township station, said officers had been deployed to guard the area but no one had been arrested.
Fu Yuen Garment Co Ltd is a producer of clothes for German supermarket chain Lidl and British fashion brand Joules, according to shipment records published by global trade data website Panjiva. Myanmar’s textile industry is the country’s top export earner after oil and gas, employing more than 450,000 people – where Four-fifths of the industry’s workers are women – and generating more than $2 billion in exports last year.
Sources: Channel News Asia, Reuters