Thursday, 18 July 2013

Myanmar migrants "suspected of torching factory"

The Nation reports:
Foreign workers suspected of torching factory

Forensic police are pouring over the remains of a Saha Farms chicken processing plant in Lop Buri that was destroyed by a suspicious blaze that broke out late Saturday night.

"The inspection results would be known in a few days," Pol Lt Charnwut Ruengjab, who was working on the case, said yesterday.

While local police and provincial authorities have refused to comment on possible causes, migrant workers have been frustrated by the non-payment of their daily wages for two months.
Police have been stationed at the factory around the clock to keep an eye on the Cambodian and Myanmar workers and a fire engine has been put on standby.

Charnwut said the loss was estimated at Bt60 million.

Saha Farms executives have not spoken publicly about the incident. He refused to comment on the possibility of arson.

The workers had staged peaceful protests inside the compound since the middle of last week, demanding their Bt300 daily wages for the last two months.

About 20 Myanmar protest |leaders have reportedly pushed for a mass rally of about 3,000 |compatriots.

A small commotion, according to unconfirmed reports, erupted Friday night, leaving one vehicle wrecked and four motorcycles torched.

Ten fire trucks were called out to extinguish the fire, which took four hours, and police were mobilised from nearby stations to restore order, before six Myanmar workers were put under police detention.

The plant did not allow any media inside and managers refused to give interviews to local reporters.

Lop Buri-based sources said this Saha Farms plant had faced liquidity problems and was going to close down, without paying the back wages to more than 5,000 employees, mainly Myanmar workers and a sprinkling of Cambodians.

Many workers have also not been paid their full wages for previous months, on top of what they earned in the last two months, which |the plant fully owes to all the employees.

Deputy Governor Sujin Chaichumsak was the first official citing "a threat of arson from protesting workers", in his statement given on Friday night after visiting the complex in Chai Badal district off Sara Buri-Lom Sak Road.

The fire started from the main chicken-processing facility, which was almost totally burned down.

This facility has been declared off limits to the public, and provincial authorities said it might be ordered demolished due to the heavy structural damage.

A crime scene inspection source said an electric short circuit was |the prime suspected cause of the blaze, as long as no evidence was uncovered that the fire was intentionally set.

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