HAT YAI, Thailand, April 10 (UPI) -- Police fired warning shots to disperse locked out workers at the Phatthana Seafood Co. in Thailand's Songkhla province, but none were injured, witnesses said.
More than 800 workers at the factory found gates locked as tensions rose when the company cut a daily food allowance and a hard work allowance -- a combined $1.28 -- after the minimum wage in Thailand was raised April 1, The Phnom Penh Post reported Tuesday.
The minimum wage was raised to $7.94 per day from $5.68, the newspaper said.
About 70 percent of the 2,000 plant workers are Cambodians, who live in company housing, which has also become a source of tension.
"The problem is the company has not implemented the contract ... accommodation (housing) was supposed to be free of charge," said Moeun Tola, head of the work program at the Cambodian Legal Education Center.
He said the housing facilities did not even include a toilet.
A workers' representative, Sok Sorng, said "No one was injured during this incident, because we did not want to see any violence ... we decided to go back to our rental house. We will protest again until we get a solution."
An estimated 15 policemen were involved in the incident.
"I believe there was a misunderstanding about the wage. I will follow this up today," said Thai Vice Minister of Labor Anusorn Kraiowatnussorn.
The labor minister declined to comment about police discharging their weapons.
Human Rights Watch Deputy Director for Asia Phil Robertson said, "The Thai government should demand all sides come to the table and bargain in good faith, and restrain the police, to ensure no violence takes place."
The Post said the factory was "believed to be" a supplier for international retail giant Walmart, but Walmart had not not responded to e-mails asking for comment by press time.
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