Global economic and financial crisis

Challenges faced by Cambodian garment workers

GMT 10:41 2015 Tuesday ,17 March

Sriyadithatextile - Challenges faced by Cambodian garment workers

Cambodian garment industry
Courtesy Google

The Cambodian garment industry, which suffered during the 2008 global economic and financial crisis, grew 26 percent in 2010 and productivity reached pre-crisis levels, according to the International Labor Organization. Cambodia's garment workers receive one of the lowest wages in the region – now a minimum of USD $61 a month – when compared to rising wages of Chinese, Vietnamese and Bangladeshi garment factory workers, according to USAID.The roughly $2 daily wage, double what one-third of Cambodians take in each day, has become the source of near weekly protests, factory shutdowns and frequent negotiations in Phnom Penh over the past several years. Workers who have graduated from short-term contracts to long-term, a process that can take up to three years, typically are in a stronger position to unionize and safely participate in protests.Wage increases remain a focus of the unions, but a proposed law to restrict union activity is now also catching unions' and workers' attention. First introduced by the Cambodian Ministry of Labor in January 2011, a draft labor law is now in its fifth version. It initially stipulated participation in “illegal strikes” should be criminalized, but the latest version offers more protection for workers, according to union advocates quoted in the Phnom Penh Post. Companies that purchase apparel from some of the 250 Cambodian garment factories include Puma, Marks and Spencer Group PLC, and Inditex, the world's largest clothing distributor and owner of Zara, according to the Phnom Penh-based Community Legal and Education Center.

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