Cambodia’s Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has urged the five trade unions—C.Cawdu, Niftuc, CUMW, FTUWKC and CATU—to immediately stop the activities of inciting workers to demonstrate.
In a statement, Minister Ith Sam Heng said that since December 24, 2013, the five trade unions have been inciting and demonstrating against the Labour Advisory Committee’s (LAC’s) decision to increase minimum wage for garment workers by US$ 15 to US$ 95 per month for 2014.
“In the activity of this demonstration, there are uses of incitement, threat, and forcing of workers who were working to stop, damage of factory properties, blocking of public roads, seriously affecting the legal right of workers/employees who are working, factory properties, and the closure of almost all factories during this demonstration period, taking a horrible toll on the interests of workers and the economy,” the Minister said.
The statement warned that all trade unions must immediately stop the activity of inciting workers to demonstrate, failing which the Ministry will take appropriate legal action.
Meanwhile, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said that despite the official warning, the 5 trade unions and 1 association (the CCU) are still continuing their activities.
In the morning of December 31, 2013, the situation remained bad for GMAC members, in which about 90 per cent of the total 559 GMAC members suffered harassment and threats against security, safety and personal life of workers and private properties of the factories, the GMAC said in a press release.
The association said some supporters of protesting trade unions were forcing other garment workers to join their protest, as a result some workers left for their hometowns. This would lead to prolonged consequence on the Cambodian garment industry and would also affect the Government’s call for workers to return to work on January 2, 2014, the statement said.
The GMAC urged the Government to take action in accordance with the law immediately and not to allow actions which would further prolong the impasse, leading to more damages.
The garment sector is the main foreign exchange earner for Cambodia, accounting for about 80 percent of the country’s overall exports. It employs over 300,000 workers, with more than 90 percent of them being female.