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Friday, January 3, 2014
Cambodian police kill four as strike for increased pay continues
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
Cambodian police killed four workers and wounded 20 Friday as they demonstrated for doubling the minimum wage. Cambodia sends more than $4 billion worth of garments to the rest of the world. It employs about half a million workers in 500 factories producing garments and footwear. Many of these factories are foreign owned and the industry, much like the industry in Bangladesh, is rife with abuse and poor working conditions.
The head of the military police made it clear what their goal was, "We're just doing our job..." he says, "We fear the security situation, so we have to crack down on them, if we allow them to continue the strike, later on, it will become messy and more complicated to control."
It comes as no surprise that the highly controlled and censored US media fails to report on such momentous and earth shattering events; after all, Hilary Clinton has a new hair style, with bangs apparently. This is very important to us.
The silence of the heads of organized Labor in the US is what is deafening. The US labor movement in order to strengthen ties with Cambodian workers and to change the passive victim like role they place their members in as a response to the capitalist offensive at home could organize and mobilize the blacklisting of all Cambodian made goods until the workers' demands are met and the strike victorious. The murderers of striking workers should also be brought to justice.
This is what could have been done during the years of the brutal apartheid regime in South Africa and wasn't. This is what will work in driving back the capitalist offensive. It would draw the same response from US police as it has from the Cambodian but it is less this that worries the trade union hierarchy here and more the inspiration and recognition by workers of our inherent power to stop the profit machine and change society.