Global unions and multinational clothing brands are to again hold talks with the Cambodian government to voice their alarm at continued and increased violations of workers’ rights in the country.
The high-level discussions will take place in the capital Phnom Penh on Monday 26 May between the government, IndustriALL Global Union and brands and retailers including H&M, Gap, Levi’s, Puma, Inditex, Debenhams and New Look amongst others.
It is the second round of talks between the parties in a matter of months, following a previous meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, the Ministers of Labour and Commerce and other senior government officials in February.
IndustriALL’s general secretary, Jyrki Raina, who will be attending the meeting and also representing the ITUC and Uni Global Union, said:
“Despite assurances from the government in February, there have since been unprecedented levels of intimidation, violence, and a declining respect for the rule of law, which together constitute a grave attack on union and worker rights."
The concerted message from global unions and brands to the Cambodian government is clear: political stability and respect for human and worker rights are essential to maintaining sourcing in Cambodia.
In the past few months, striking garment workers have been forced back to work by the military, workers have been summarily dismissed and garment factories have launched a catalogue of lawsuits against union leaders.
Unions and brands also maintain their concern about the continued detention of 21 wage protestors and the fair trial of all 23, as well as the lack of progress in forming a minimum wage determination mechanism.
To date, there have been no independent investigations of workers killed by police in attacks on wage protestors in January, and those affected have not received any form of compensation.
Cambodia was recently given a score of five by the ITUC’s Global Rights Index for trade union rights abuses. Only countries where the rule of law has completely broken down got a lower rating.