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Global trade bodies urge Cambodia to respect labour rights

Apr '19
Global trade bodies urge Cambodia to respect labour rights
A group of global trade associations representing garment, footwear and travel goods buyers, including the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) and the Fair Labour Association, recently urged Phnom Penh to improve labour and human rights conditions in the face of possible preferential trade agreement changes by the United States and the European Union (EU).

Te EU launched a six-month period of intensive monitoring and engagement in February that could lead to the suspension of the Everything-But-Arms (EBA) initiative, while US lawmakers have also made a similar move to review the Cambodia’s generalised system of preference status.

These steps were taken over perceived human rights and democratic setbacks over the dissolution of the former opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) in 2017.

In a joint letter addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen and four ministries last week, eight associations called for a timeline from the government on improvements, according to Cambodian media reports.

“As we discussed with your ministries in October, we stand ready to work with your government to address these issues to ensure that international brands and retailers increasingly look to Cambodia as a major sourcing destination,” the group said. “We remain deeply concerned with the lack of progress that has been made in addressing these important issues.”

Charges against many labour leaders remain and the Trade Union Law continues to restrict union activities, the letter observed.

The group also noted in the letter that the role and independence of the Arbitration Council have continued to be undercut despite being an effective dispute resolution mechanism.

“Each of these developments undermines progress towards improving workers’ rights and stabilising the garment, footwear and travel goods manufacturing sector,” it said. “These issues are emblematic of some of the larger human rights issues in Cambodia.”

Rejecting the group’s concern as ‘politically motivated’ and accusing it of interfering in the country’s judicial system by weighing in on court issues, Cambodian Government spokesman Phay Siphan recently said the administration has been making changes to the sector by increasing the minimum wage for garment workers and improving working conditions. (DS)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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April 2019

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