This International Women’s Day, IndustriALL Global Union is mobilising support for Cambodian women garment workers, 30,000 of whom will defy government warnings to gather in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park tomorrow, 8 March.
Government officials have explicitly warned IndustriALL affiliates not to mobilise the mass Forum on Labour Rights, and this morning released ominous photos in the local press of riot police in the Olympic Stadium preparing for an attack on the peaceful demonstration.
An elite military group under the leadership of the Prime Minister’s son is also gearing up for violence tomorrow. This group was responsible for the brutal attacks on IndustriALL member unions at the Sabrina factory last year that killed two unborn babies of striking workers.
IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle stated:
We are immensely concerned for the safety of our Cambodian sisters tomorrow, facing heavily armed government forces on International Women’s Day. But we are even more inspired and proud to stand with them in solidarity. Their campaign is for a minimum wage increase to US$160, trade union rights and the release of 21 activists jailed in the previous mobilisations around 5 January. IndustriALL affiliates will lead tomorrow’s demonstrations, and we remain in constant communication.
IndustriALL trade union affiliates are responding to the call for messages of solidarity to be sent to the Cambodian women worker leaders. One of the main organisers of tomorrow’s action is Mohn Nihm, President of trade union affiliate NIFTUC and Chairperson of the IndustriALL Women’s Committee in Cambodia. See the photo of this inspiring leader opposite. Prominent unions taking support action include IG Metall of Germany, UA Zensen of Japan, and the TCFUA of Australia.
The three IndustriALL affiliates central to tomorrow’s action are CCAWDU, NIFTUC and FTUWKC.
Next week, from 12 to at least 19 March, garment workers will carry out a stay-at-home strike action as the next step in the campaign for a decent increase to the minimum wage. This follows last week’s boycott of overtime. The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has set up a special committee to conduct research and make recommendations on the wage increase. But workers demand change now.
Long working hours, poor health and safety conditions and malnutrition led to mass fainting of women in the factories in 2013 and the violations continue unabated.
Write to the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen using the messaging tool opposite, and send your direct message to the head of the Cambodian garment manufacturers association Ken Loo here KenLoo@gmac-cambodia.org.