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Garment industry in dock over Cambodia's poverty wages

04
Feb '12
Garment workers' unions and human rights groups will hold a People's Tribunal to investigate the state of poverty pay in the Cambodian garment industry.

Following recent mass faintings induced by malnutrition, and strikes pulling more than 200,000 workers to the streets to protest poor conditions and inadequate pay, the tribunal will call evidence from a wide variety of stakeholders from the Cambodian garment industry.

Workers, manufacturers, and multinational brands Adidas and Puma, among others, will give evidence about the state of the industry in front of a panel of expert judges. H&M and Gap were also invited but have refused to attend.

“Despite experiencing sustained growth in the sector Cambodia's minimum wage allowance is 66 USD a month and is currently the lowest of all its neighbouring states. This wage amounts to around half that required to adequately meet the average worker's basic needs.” said Tola Moeun head of Labour Programs for the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC).

Ath Thorn, president of Cambodian Labour Confederation said that, “Both Better Factories Cambodia and government representatives have attributed the phenomenon of mass fainting directly to inadequate salaries, and the effect these have had on workers' nutrition and their ability to rest. Something must be done about this.”

The tribunal, taking place from 5-8th February, is officially called the 'People's Tribunal on for Minimum Living Wages and Decent Working Conditions for Garment Workers as a Fundamental Right'. It has been organised by the International Asia Floor Wage Alliance and the Asia Floor Wage Cambodia, both coalitions of garment workers' trade unions and workers' rights groups. It seeks to make public the relevant concerns of those employed in the garment sector in Cambodia.

International workers' rights group the Clean Clothes Campaign will also participate in the tribunal and will urge governments and global buyers sourcing from Cambodia to take the findings of the People Tribunal very seriously. “With this tribunal we hope to see some real commitment from big brands buying from Cambodia to start addressing the real needs of their workers - a living wage should be at the root of company policies,” said Jeroen Merk, Clean Clothes Campaign International Secretariat.

Clean Clothes Campaign


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