Nike Supplier in Cambodia Says Most Workers Return After Protest

A Nike Inc. Cambodian supplier said most workers at its factory returned to work this morning after after property was damaged during protests yesterday.

Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing Co.’s 3,500 employees, about 70 percent of the total workforce, attended work as usual today, according to Geoff Bilbrough, an external spokesman for the Taiwanese-owned company. As many as 300 people, not all of them employees, protested outside the factory gates yesterday, the company said in an e-mailed statement today.

Cambodian police arrested seven workers after clashes at the plant in Kompong Speu, near capital Phnom Penh, on Monday, the Associated Press reported yesterday. The protests began May 21 when workers demanded higher pay, the AP reported. Mary Remuzzi, a spokeswoman for Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike, said today the company does not have anything to add beyond a statement issued last week.

“It is our understanding that this factory raised its own minimum wage on May 1 and pays above the country’s minimum wage,” the world’s largest sporting-goods company said in the statement last week. In addition to wages, the workers were given additional monthly allowances for housing, transportation and food as well as an attendance bonus, Nike said then.

Some protesters, who broke into the factory grounds and damaged property, were removed by the police yesterday, Sabrina said, without providing more details. The garment maker said it pays above the minimum wage, and has started talks with employees, the Labor Department, and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, after protests started last week.

Concern over labor standards in Asian apparel factories after the collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh in April, considered among the world’s worst industrial disasters, has risen. A kiosk at a garment factory in Cambodia collapsed on May 20 injuring at least 23 people, Xinhua reported then, citing municipal police.

— With assistance by Liza Lin, and Yu-Huay Sun

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