Workers at the Sanyo Electronics plant in Bangkok, Thailand, staged an angry demonstration on Dec. 17 demanding higher year-end bonuses. Following the day-long demonstration, a nearby warehouse and office complex went up in flames to workers' cheers.
The fire destroyed the warehouse and an adjoining office complex. Company officials estimated the damage at $4 million.
The next day, 2,000 workers at the state-owned Krung Thai Bank staged protests for higher bonuses. Some bank workers held cigarette lighters, chanting "Sanyo, Sanyo." Government ministers came to the scene and eventually agreed to pay the workers a bonus of five months' pay--the amount the workers demanded.
The president of the Thai branch of the Japan External Trade Organization, Yoshiyasu Nao, said, "I am afraid the violence will discourage Japanese investors and also undermine our efforts to invite investors to Thailand. One act of violence can undermine one thousand efforts to invite investors to Thailand."
Trading of Sanyo shares on the Thai stock exchange were suspended for two days following the attack.
Twelve workers were arrested on arson charges, but Sanyo officials are facing allegations that they burned down the plant for a $112-million insurance policy.