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Global unions and 30 major brands call on Cambodian government to investigate deadly violence

20 January, 2014IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union, and the ITUC have joined forces with 30 global brands to urge the Cambodian government to investigate the recent use of deadly force against striking garment workers.

IndustriALL and UNI, whose joint efforts resulted in the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, say they are encouraged that brands are taking responsibility for their production and are demanding a change from the Cambodian government.

The letter, dated Friday, urged the government to launch a new process to set minimum wages and to respect the rights of workers and trade unions. The brands also asked for a meeting with Mr. Hun Sen himself.

The group expressed its concern at the killing and wounding of workers and bystanders by security forces on 2 and 3 January, when peaceful demonstrations were taking place over an increase in the minimum wage.

Jyrki Raina, general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union, says:

ILO has stated on Convention 87 ratified by Cambodia that no one should be deprived of their freedom or be subject to penal sanctions for the mere fact of organizing or participating in a peaceful strike. The government must now take responsibility for protecting the workers’ and unions’ rights. Employer and union representatives must engage in constructive dialogue resulting in a real living wage.

UNI Global Union general secretary Philip Jennings says:

“These protests were the legitimate action of Cambodian workers who should be protected and afforded their right to campaign for a decent wage. We are pleased that a group of retailers shares our concerns about the rights of workers and is calling on the government to investigate this use of deadly force.”

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary says:

“With big global brands from Adidas to Walmart calling for action jointly with unions, Cambodia’s government needs to fix the broken system which has left workers no option but to take strike action.  Failure to do so will mean continued suffering for workers on poverty wages, and do immense damage to Cambodia’s lucrative export industry.”

“The authorities must release the workers detained earlier this month immediately,” she added.