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ILO urges dialogue to resolve dispute in garment sector

January 02, 2014 (Cambodia)

The ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR is closely following developments in the garment industry in Cambodia, particularly in relation to recent industrial unrest.

The current disruption within such an important sector for the Cambodian economy is a cause for significant concern.

The economic fallout from the protests and the industry’s response to them may impact significantly on the industry’s revenues while tarnishing the country’s reputation among international buyers. As Cambodia’s largest industrial sector, accounting for some US$5 billion per year in exports, and some 400,000 jobs, the risks arising out of the current situation are significant for a sector which continues to operate in an intensely competitive international environment.

Resolving the current situation will require support from all stakeholders, workers, trade unions, government and business and its representatives. The ILO urges all of these actors to maximise efforts to find a resolution to the situation. We strongly encourage all parties to intensify these efforts through channels based on the principles of social dialogue and tripartism.

Violence and destruction of property are not legitimate tools of industrial action. We call for these actions to stop immediately. The ILO encourages the reopening of factories as speedily as possible in a manner that ensures the safety of workers and guarantees the respect for property.

ILO principles and international labour standards call for any punitive measures that may result from illegal acts be taken against the individuals who commit those acts, and not against organizations. According to international law revoking the registration of trade unions is permissible only in clearly defined circumstances.

The current unrest highlights the necessity for Cambodia to adopt a more modern and robust minimum wage fixing system based on international good practices, using objective criteria and data. Minimum wage rates should be reviewed regularly (ideally once per year) to ensure that the level of wages is in line with the needs of workers and employers, and with general economic conditions. The ILO offers its support to the RGC to develop a more effective system to achieve these objectives.

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