2007-2008: Kings Land Ignores Union Rights
Workers at the Kings Land Garment Company in Cambodia have been requesting that its management address a variety of issues regarding their working conditions since mid-2007. They initially sought government intervention but received little support and they exhausted every option in their attempts to arrange negotiations with the factory’s management. So, on 11 January 2008, the Garment Workers Democratic Union (GWDU) went on strike to demand that Kings Land recognise their union, discuss a variety of labour violations, and reinstate 18 union members who had been illegally dismissed after the establishment of the union in July 2007.
The CCC urged supporters to write on behalf of the striking workers to demand immediate action from Kings Land management to uphold workers rights and basic human rights. The CCC also urged supporters to demand the reinstatement of 18 dismissed union workers including the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. The CCC also urged letter writers to demand that Kings Land recognise the GWDU’s right to represent its workers in negotiations covering poor working conditions.
The CCC also requested that Kings Land enter into serious negotiations with the GWDU, as mandated by the Ministry of Labour in 2007, as well as abide by the Arbitration Council agreement it signed in October 2007, which stipulates, among other things, that an employer must give one day’s notice if there is no work available the following day and must pay 50% of wages for that day. The notion was to compel Kings Land to abide by not only national legislation that covers workers rights but also international law.
Apparently, the ILO tried to mediate between the two sides and there was some discussion with other companies about who was sourcing there and ultimately responsible for the working conditions. But, despite an international campaign and mediation efforts, management refused to acknowledge the union. Negotiations regarding reinstatement of union leaders stalled and the CCC reports that this case was not resolved.
In December 2012, Kings Land abruptly decided to close its doors and shut down all operations.
In January 2013, the CCC launched a new urgent appeal in behalf of the Kings Land workers. The international labour rights community, including the CCC, have issued a statement that was signed by 17 organisations from across Asia, Europe and the US in support of Kings Land’s workers. It calls on Walmart and H&M to ensure that the Kings Land owners pay full back wages to the now unemployed workers and indemnity as well as fully comply with Cambodian Labour Law.