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30 global brands call for investigation of deadly violence in Cambodia

January 21, 2014

(Photo: LICADHO)

Thirty major apparel brands, together with the global unions ITUC, IndustriALL and UNI, have signed a joint letter to Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen, calling on his government to launch a prompt and thorough investigation into violent events of January 2-3 that ensures “full accountability of any members of security forces found to have used disproportionate and excessive force.”

On January 3, at least four garment workers were killed and close to 40 others were wounded when security forces fired into a crowd of protestors who were participating in a massive strike for an increased minimum wage.

The brand letter also calls for:
•    Immediate convening of negotiations between the government, employers and unions for a resolution to the crisis.
•    Respect for the rights of 23 workers and union leaders who have been detained for their role in the strike;
•    Respect for freedom of association; and
•    Establishment of a new wage-setting process to achieve “prompt agreement on a new minimum wage.”

Signatories to the letter include one Canadian company, Lululemon, plus a number of other well-known retailers and brands with a major presence in the Canadian market, such as Walmart, Gap Inc, H&M, Inditex (owner of Zara), American Eagle Outfitters, Nike, adidas, and Levi’s.

MSN is calling on all Canadian companies whose apparel products are made in Cambodia to endorse the brand letter and communicate that position to the Cambodian government and the Canadian public.

Take Action:
Demonstrate your support for Cambodian garment workers by signing online petitions to the Cambodian government:

Cambodia: Stop government violence against workers (Labour Start Campaign)

Prime Minister Hun Sen: Protect right to peaceful protest and end military crackdown in Cambodia (Avaaz Campaign)

Watch a short video on the government violence against the striking workers by the Cambodia NGO Licadho.

Background:
Starvation wages are the root cause of the worker unrest in Cambodia, and international apparel brands and retailers share responsibility for these low wages because of the low prices they pay to their suppliers.

The minimum wage for garment workers in Cambodia is currently $80/month. The workers are demanding it be raised to $160/month. The government responded to the strike by offering to raise it to $100/month.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance estimates that Cambodian workers need $283/month to meet their basic needs.

A Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) study shows that Cambodian garment workers’ real wages actually decreased by 22% between 2001 and 2011.

A recent study by Labour Behind the Label and the Cambodian Community Legal Education Centre shows that the main cause of mass fainting of workers in Cambodian garment factories is poor nutrition caused by poverty wages.

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