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Cambodian unions call on brands to ACT

9 April, 2019IndustriALL’s Cambodian affiliates have written to a number of global clothing brands that have not yet committed to the ACT process to tell them that by not doing so they are directly jeopardizing negotiations towards an industry agreement in the garment sector.

In the letters to Gap, Puma, Nike, Adidas, Uniqlo, Levi’s and VF, the unions tell the companies that their failure to sign on to the ACT commitments and to pool their sourcing leverage with the other ACT brands is now having a detrimental impact on all Cambodian garment workers. This is because on March 11th, the garment employers’ association, GMAC, withdrew from the negotiations with the trade unions for an industry wide collective agreement that would raise wages and working conditions across the sector. GMAC has stated that without more international brands and retailers signing on to ACT, it will not be able continue with the negotiations.

The unions point out to the brands that if their goal is to achieve a living wage for garment workers, the ACT process provides a unique opportunity to strengthen the industry and to improve wages for workers through sectorial bargaining. By not making the same commitments as ACT member brands to support an industry wide agreement through their purchasing practices, these brands are fundamentally contributing to the Cambodian suppliers’ decision to withdraw from the negotiations.

Cambodian affiliates are urging Gap, Puma, Nike, Adidas, Uniqlo, Levi’s and VF not to continue to take a passive role on whether living wages are paid to garment workers, but to join together with the other global brands and retailers who, through ACT, are collectively linking their international purchasing practices to the development of national industry wide collective agreements.

"The Cambodian unions are understandably frustrated that their efforts to negotiate an industry wide collective agreement that will improve wages for garment workers are being undermined by brands that state their support for living wages but have not yet made the commitments necessary to achieve them.

"It is widely recognised that ACT represents the best chance to make a real difference to garment worker wages, but this requires the support of all leading companies."

Jenny Holdcroft, IndustriALL assistant general secretary