Thousands of workers building a plant for South Korean electronics giant Samsung in northern Vietnam clashed Thursday with police and burned motorbikes in a rare outbreak of labor violence triggered by an argument with security guards at the construction site.
Local media reported 11 people were injured after between 3,000 and 4,000 workers rioted at the Yen Binh industrial park in Thai Nguyen province where Samsung is building its largest mobile phone factory in the world.
The violence erupted around 7:00 a.m. when, according to Samsung, a “brief altercation occurred between a group of construction workers and security guards over safety protocols” at the site, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) north of Hanoi.
Motorbikes and containers used as guard posts were set alight as workers hurled rocks at police in riot gear who were summoned to restore order.
Citizen video posted online showed smoke billowing from burning containers and workers, many of them wearing construction helmets, pelting stones at riot police.
Provincial People’s Committee Chairman Duong Ngoc Long said police restored order after a few hours, refuting early local media reports of up to four deaths in the clash.
“The situation has been brought under control. Everything was under control from about 10:30 am,” he told RFA’s Vietnamese Service.
“I also confirm that there were no deaths,” he said.
Construction at the site has not been affected, Samsung wrote in a statement on its official blog.
“Those injured were immediately sent to nearby hospitals for treatment,” it said.
“We will do our utmost to prevent any such incidents from recurring in the future,” said the company, which has poured U.S. $3.2 billion into a massive complex in the industrial park.
The complex comprises two plants, one specializing in cell phones and tablets and the other manufacturing microprocessors and integrated circuits.
Samsung and other tech companies such as Intel and Nokia are increasingly moving production to Vietnam, where labor costs are cheaper than in neighboring China.
Some 10,000 production and construction workers, mostly local residents, have been employed at the complex since work began on it in March.
Hoa Binh Security Service Company, which provides guards at the site, has sent representatives to investigate the incident, according to reports in local media.
Provincial police have said they are conducting their own investigation but have made no mention of any arrests.
Reported by Mac Lam for RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.