Phnom Penh, Cambodia — About 15 garment workers were seated cross-legged in a circle on a rattan mat outside SL Garment Processing Factory in the Meanchey District here last month. They were quietly manning a roadblock their union had set up in a protest at the factory in early August.
The peaceful scene was a far cry from the one a week earlier when, on Nov. 12, the workers attempted to march to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house to seek a resolution to the three-month-long dispute with SL Garment. The march erupted into violence when security forces pushed back against the workers and other youths, who pelted the police with rocks. The police returned fire with tear gas and live ammunition, leaving a street food vendor dead.
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