The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has informed all stakeholders that the industry is unable to continue operations due to the workers resorting to strike after the last week’s Government announcement of raising the minimum wage by US$ 15 for 2014, as against the workers' demand of raising the minimum wage to US$ 160 per month from the current US$ 80 per month.
In a press release, the GMAC said “Over the past few years, we have tried our best to remain operational amidst extremely difficult business and economic environment. We have also had to put up with numerous illegal strikes and militant behavior of some trade unions.”
“However, since December 25, 2013, the illegal and violent actions of the six trade unions, including destroying of factory property, threatening workers who want to work, inciting workers to strike, forcing workers to stop work, etc. as well as their apparent impunity by the Ministry of Labor have left us with no other option but to close,” the statement adds.
The GMAC has named six trade unions—Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.Cawdu), National Independent Federation of Textile Union in Cambodia (Niftuc), Collective unions of Movement of Workers (CUMW), Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC); Cambodian Confederation of Union (CCU), and Cambodian Alliance of Trade Union (CATU)—for disrupting normal operations at garment manufacturing units.
The GMAC said it would be happy to receive the invitation for GMAC members to resume operations when the six above-mentioned trade unions and the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training guarantee the safety of workers who want to work, and also guarantee and safeguard all the property of GMAC members.
The association said all GMAC members have not been able to meet production schedules due to the work stoppage since December 25. This has resulted in factories missing their shipping schedules, and as a result many factories would be penalized and be subjected to fines by buyers.
“Most importantly, factories would not have received any payments from buyers due to non-delivery of goods. As a result, most factories might not have the ability to pay wages to their workers on payday,” the GMAC said.
The garment body further said that the six trade unions would have to bear full responsibilities for the loss of wages, loss of jobs and the loss of investment in Cambodia.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor has urged both garment manufacturers and trade unions to quickly resolve their differences. In a statement, the Ministry said it would cooperate with all authorities, unions, factory owners and relevant stakeholders to maintain public order and to prevent any activity that can lead to the instability at the factories.
From January to November 2013, Cambodia exported garments and footwear worth US$ 5.1 billion, showing a sharp 22 percent year-on-year jump, according to the Ministry of Commerce data.