News / Economy

World Retailers Want Negotiations in Cambodia Labor Dispute

A worker participates in a rally condemning the Cambodian government for cracking down on protesters opposed to the rule and policies of Prime Minister Hun Sen in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 10, 2014.
A worker participates in a rally condemning the Cambodian government for cracking down on protesters opposed to the rule and policies of Prime Minister Hun Sen in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 10, 2014.
Kimseng Men
Major international clothing companies say they are concerned for the safety of Cambodia’s garment workers and want to see peaceful negotiations between unions, factories and the government.

The workers have been on strike for weeks, calling for the monthly minimum wage to be doubled to $160. The industry employs up to 400,000 people.

Five people were killed, 40 injured and 23 arrested in crackdowns on striking workers and other demonstrators last week. Many laborers have since returned to work but unions are still calling for a raise.

In an unusual move, major international clothing retailers, including H&M, Adidas, Gap, Columbia, Puma and Levi Strauss, this week signed a joint letter decrying violence against workers.

“We strongly oppose any form of violence, and urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to drive negotiations among stakeholders to peacefully resolve this dispute,” Laura Wilkinson, a spokeswoman for Gap, told VOA Khmer in an e-mail.

Ron Parham, a spokesman for Columbia, said the company was “deeply troubled” by recent events. Columbia has urged the government and its labor advisory committee to set a minimum wage based on “international good practices.”

“We believe that every worker has the right to work in a safe and secure environment and to associate, organize and bargain collectively in a lawful and peaceful manner without penalty, interference or fear,” he said in an e-mail. “This includes the right to negotiate a raise in the minimum wage.”

However, the companies VOA Khmer contacted said they did not plan to stop buying goods from Cambodia if the minimum wage is not raised or violence against workers continues.

“H&M remains committed to Cambodia as one of our key sourcing countries,” said Anna Eriksson, a spokeswoman for the company. “As a key buyer in [the] Cambodian garment industry, we will continue to encourage all relevant parties to renew negotiations and to come to a mutually agreeable solution to this conflict.”

Representatives for sportswear companies Adidas and Puma said they stood by the contents of a Jan. 7 open letter to the government, unions and manufacturers, urging peaceful negotiations and restraint.

Cambodia exports about $5 billion in garments and shoes annually, but workers say they cannot live on the current minimum wage of $80 a month.

Cambodian garment workers run for safety in front of a factory of Yak Jin in Kambol village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 2, 2014.Cambodian garment workers run for safety in front of a factory of Yak Jin in Kambol village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 2, 2014.
x
Cambodian garment workers run for safety in front of a factory of Yak Jin in Kambol village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 2, 2014.
Cambodian garment workers run for safety in front of a factory of Yak Jin in Kambol village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 2, 2014.
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which represents factories, originally said a wage increase was not possible and that factories would move to other countries if workers continued to strike.

But in a conciliatory gesture, Ken Loo, secretary-general of the association, said recently that factories would abide by a wage increase if the government puts it in place.

No new date for negotiations has been set. On Friday, Labor Secretary Oum Mean told VOA Khmer he was “busy” and could not discuss the issue.

In South Korea, Cambodian workers in South Korea this week held their own demonstrations in solidarity with the garment workers at home, calling on the Phnom Penh government to investigate last week’s shootings and hold accountable those responsible.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
January 13, 2014 9:05 PM
We wrote this to call for International Court or UN Action to deal with
the Government of Hun Sen who uses forces to kill its own people
especially workers were currently killed and injured at Veng Sreng
Street, Phnom Penh, because only the strike for $160 basic
salary for supporting their living lives.


by: Cranksy from: USA
January 12, 2014 10:34 PM
Who owns the factories? Individuals? International businesses?


by: KimPeter
January 11, 2014 11:45 AM


The un-armed prestesters were simply protesting for the raise and it was peaceful from the start, at least 10 days, until Hun Sen body guards arrived at the protest site with AK-47 military rile and shot the protesters, killing many of them. Hun Sen is a war criminal.

The person that this AK-47 rifle needs to be shot at is Hun Sen because he uses deadly forces to evict hundreds of thousands of innocent Cambodians without any compensation. He robs public assets such as land, forest, mine etc and sold them to foreigners for his pockets. Hun Sen commits serious crimes and this AK-47 rifle needs to aim at him instead and not aim at decent and hard working people like these factory workers.

Protesting is not a crime, it is a way of negotiating for justice or fairness. $80 dollars a month is not a fair wage for surviving in Cambodia. One room apartment costs $200 per month in Cambodia. http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Cambodia

World communities must bring Hun Sen to justice. A volunteered Khmer Rouge commander who is responsible for slaughtering millions of innocent Cambodian people. Hun Sen is a wicked and vicious human being.

In Response

by: Bob from: Canada
January 13, 2014 10:42 AM
In the name Cambodian people, down on my knee, my hands are folded please help to find justice for Cambodian people… You are their only HOPE and can save them from suppressions; from intimidation and slavery … You can make their dreams come true with only small efforts by just sending out a few words showing your solidarity and support in the name of democracy that is all it take from you….

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8143
JPY
USD
119.23
GBP
USD
0.6390
CAD
USD
1.1596
INR
USD
63.304

Rates may not be current.