11 injured in northern Vietnam Samsung plant riot

Eleven people were injured, five of them seriously, in a fight Thursday between security guards and workers at the construction site a multi-billion dollar Samsung complex in the northern province of Thai Nguyen.

The incident occurred at around 7 a.m. at the Yen Binh Industrial Zone in Pho Yen District, where the South Korean electronics giant’s US$3.2-billion hi-tech complex is being built.

The fight broke out after the guards refused to allow some construction workers to bring meals to the site, witnesses said.

During the altercation, one of the guards reportedly hit a worker with a club, causing the latter to fall unconscious. This enraged other workers and hundreds of them attacked the guards, the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper quoted some witnesses as saying.

Some of the workers burned three containers, which were being used as guardrooms, and more than 10 motorbikes belonging to the guards, they said.

Pho Yen Police and Military Hospital No.91 confirmed to Thanh Nien that 11 injured people are being treated at the medical facility.

One of the people, only slightly injured, was discharged, while five others had suffered severe injuries and were initially diagnosed with brain trauma.

The injured included guards, workers and Pho Yen police officers, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported, without elaborating.

An unnamed senior police official in Thai Nguyen told news website VnExpress that the fight was broken up around three hours after it began.

Police are investigating the incident, he said.

Nguyen Van Tien, an engineer, told Thanh Nien he has witnessed at least five confrontations between guards and workers for the last two months that he has carried out construction inspections, but the workers were never as aggressive as they were this morning.

Tien said one reason for the disputes was the guards forcing workers to return to their homes, rented accommodations quite far away from the site, to get ID cards that they’d forgotten to bring.

Tien said engineers have had no problems with the guards thus far since they always comply with the factory regulations.

Work on the complex, which media reports have billed Samsung’s largest mobile phone factory in the world, began last March.

It comprises a $2-billion plant specializing in assembling hi-tech devices including cell phones and tablets, and another $1.2-billion plant that will assemble microprocessors and integrated circuits.

While the Nguoi Lao Dong reported that many works including factory construction, installation of equipment, electricity and water systems are still going on, a VnExpress report said production has already begun although commercial operations are set to begin next March.

This is the second Samsung Electronics’ complex in Vietnam. The first one, a $2.5 billion facility in the northern Bac Ninh Province’s Yen Phong Industrial Zone, makes mobile phones and tablets.

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