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Cambodian garment workers need support from brands

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16 April, 2020Garment unions in Cambodia are proposing brands and manufacturers contribute 40 percent respectively and the government 20 percent of the minimum wage for workers in factories that have suspended operations due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Official numbers show that the Covid-19 outbreak has led to a halt of production in 91 garment factories and 91,500 garment workers have been laid off. According to the unions, garment workers and their dependent families cannot survive on US$70, a substantial drop from the minimum wage of US$190.

On 7 April, the Cambodian government announced that temporarily laid-off garment workers would only receive US$70 per month, instead of a previous proposal of US$114, where employers were to pay 40 per cent and the government 20 percent.

“We hope brands can shoulder part of the responsibility by paying 40 percent of the minimum wage to support the garment workers. Manufacturers should increase their share to 40 percent, given the profits they have made for years in Cambodia,”

says Athit Kong, president of Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union (CCAWDU), affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union.

“1,180 of our members lost their jobs when 15 garment factories suspended operations and 8,000 members have been temporarily laid-off. There are protests against employers’ failure to pay wage owed last month,”

says Pav Sina, president of Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW).

IndustriALL regional secretary Annie Adviento suggests that the Cambodian government enter into social dialogue with all trade unions:

“In times of crisis, national dialogue with trade unions is essential to find a tenable solution.”