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Cambodian workers sacked after asking for living wage

Photo: OxfamAUS

More than 300 illegally dismissed Cambodian workers remain locked out of their workplaces despite official orders for their reinstatement.

The unfairly dismissed were among 200,000 Phnom Penh garment workers who took part in demonstrations last September. The protests highlighted the inadequacy of the $61 monthly minimum wage, which falls well short of a living wage. According to the recent Cambodian living wage study, Cambodian garment workers need at least $93 a month to support their families and enjoy a reasonable standard of living.

Since the September demonstrations many union organisers have become the targets of legal actions by their employers. Hundreds of workers have found themselves barred from re-entering their factories. These sackings and suspensions contravene the Cambodian constitution, local labour laws, as well as International Labour Organisation conventions.

The Cambodian government stated that it would not allow workers to be dismissed following the strikes. Yet according to the Clean Clothes Campaign factories have ignored these orders. At the beginning of October, Cambodian courts also issued a decree ordering employers to reinstate dismissed and suspended workers. But factories have refused to comply and many are pursuing further legal action against union organisers.

Brands can play a pivotal role in the reinstatement of these workers by demanding that their suppliers respect workers’ union rights. Gap, Zara and H&M manufacture many of their products in Cambodian suppliers, including factories where several workers have been subjected to illegal sackings. H&M recently responded to written petitions, stating that they are working to find a “mutually satisfactory solution” to the issue of worker reinstatement. However the Cambodian union (CCAWD) and labour rights observers believes that H&M’s actions have been too weak, particularly since there is already a court ruling that workers should be re-instated.

You can write to these brands today to ask that their suppliers ensure the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of unfairly dismissed workers.

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Cambodians strike for a living wage