Trade union struggles around the world, living wages, collective bargaining and expressing support for the Cambodian workers, are issues on the agenda as around 200 delegates from IndustriALL Global Union gather in Phnom Penh on 9 - 10 December for Executive Committee meetings. The garment industry employs 600,000 workers in Cambodia. As part of its global action towards living wages in the sector, IndustriALL is working with its eight Cambodian affiliates to push for higher wages.
IndustriALL general secretary Jyrki Raina says that the latest increase to the minimum wage does not meet workers’ expectations for a wage sufficient to support themselves and their families:
The current demands by unions in Cambodia reflect the workers’ frustration with the brands, as well as the lack of response from government and employers to the unions’ 13 demands. Workers are saying that brands sourcing from the country must guarantee a living wage.
This is why it is even more urgent for IndustriALL to continue to work with the brands sourcing from Cambodia towards industry level collective bargaining in order to improve wages. There should be national negotiations supported by responsible buying practices and moving towards world class manufacturing standards. The garment brands that source from Cambodian factories must take their share of responsibility for ensuring that garment workers earn a living wage.
H.E. Sat Samoth, Under-Secretary of State from the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training will speak at the opening of the Executive Committee.
To highlight the complex situation in the region, IndustriALL is hosting a panel debate on living wage action, collective bargaining and organizing in Cambodia and other Asian countries. Panelists include Cambodian government representative Heng Sour, Swedish retail giant H&M, GMAC general secretary Ken Loo and trade union representatives from Cambodia, Myanmar and Indonesia.
Jyrki Raina says that a continued dialogue is crucial for the long-term success of the country’s crucial garment industry:
IndustriALL wants to see a continued improvement of garment workers’ living conditions, and we also support plans for diversification of the country’s manufacturing base.
And we want to make sure that the new trade union law is in line with the ILO conventions on freedom of Association and Collective bargaining.