Labour rights groups and trade unions across the world are expressing outrage at the brutal violence and repression in Cambodia following demonstrations by garment and footwear workers calling for a raise in the minimum wage.
The groups, including Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, Worker Rights Consortium, Maquila Solidarity Network, United Students Against Sweatshops, International Union League for Brand Responsibility, Workers United, SEIU, Framtiden i våre hender, and CNV Internationaal, The Netherlands, are calling on global clothing brands to take immediate action and contact the Cambodian government demanding:
-Immediate end to all violence and intimidation against workers and their representatives;
- Release of all those who have been detained for participation in the struggles;
- Respect for freedom of association and the workers’ right to strike;
- Refraining from charging the workers and trade union leaders who have participated in the strike;
- Resumption of good-faith minimum wage negotiations; and
- Ensuring all those responsible for the violence against the strikers are held to account.
Violence against garment workers began after Cambodian unions called a national strike on December 24, 2013. Workers were demanding an increase in the minimum wage to USD 160 per month. As protests continued, the police and military responded with violence on January 2 and 3, killing at least 4 people and injuring almost 40.
Seven brands sent an open letter to the Government of Cambodia on January 7 expressing their concerns over the recent violence. It is commendable that these brands are willing to speak up and appalling that so many others have remained silent in the face of such blatant human rights violations in their sector.
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