Cambodian Garment Workers bring their call for a living wage directly to the brands

This October two Cambodian garment workers and two Cambodian trade unionists from C.CAWDU have come to Europe to visit head offices and parliments to bring their demands for a living wage to the people who are buying the clothes they make.

From October 6th through til October 25th the four Cambodian visitors will be touring countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, France, H&M's home country of Sweden and Inditex (Zara)'s home country of Spain.

The workers have been part of the ongoing campaign to call for an increase in the minimum wage to US$177 - which would be a significant step towards the payment of a living wage.

Report from the tour

Here you can read snippets of their tour as they make their way around Europe, meeting campaigners, brands and MPs.

Monday October 6 - Belgium 

Cambodian workers met Belgian retail workers.

The visitors met with some Belgian retail workers working for H&M and Sport Direct and the Cambodian workers and trade unionists.  They shared their expereinces and discussed ideas of actions to activate solidarity along the supply chain.

Tuesday October 7 - Belgium

Cambodian workers, Belgian retail workers, Belgian consumers and CCC are demanding H&M and Zara to act !

The Cambodian visitors joined Belgian retail workers of H&M and Zara, Belgian consumers and campaigners from the two CCC campaigns in Belgium Schone Kleren Campagne and achACT in visiting the HQ of H&M and Zara in Brussels to deliver a common statement to the managers of the two retailers. By this action, they want to make concrete the solidarity along the value chain, from workers making clothes to workers selling it and to consumer.

Campaign Conference - The Festival Millénium

Mr Vong Vuthy and Ms Hong Chanthan participatedin a conference organized for the World Day of Decent Work. After the projection of the film Il Pane e Vita, a discussion was had on the injustice of the garment industries.  The panel discussion was followed by a social gathering.

Wednesday October 8 - Belgium

Meeting with Oxfam Solidarity

Mr Vong Vuthy and Ms Hong Chanthan visited the second hand shops of Oxfam Solidarity, met the volunteers of the organization and saw the new exhibition on decent work. It was a wonderful opportunity for the workers to see the support they have in Belgium. Ms Chanthan said the reconstruction of the worker’s house was even better than her real life!

Invitation of the associations of international solidarity, organized by CIEP Hainaut Occidental.

On Wednesday evening Mr Vong Vuthy and Ms Hong Chanthan, went to the city of Tournai and the house of International Solidarity. A real Khmer diner, cooked by a Cambodian woman living in the city, was waiting for them before the debate began. The conference began with the small movie “Le Salaire de la Faim”, and was followed by a strong and interesting exchange on the current working and struggling situation of the garment workers in Cambodia. Over forty people were present to listen to the testimonies of Vuthy and Chanthan. A real success!

Wednesday October 8 and Thursday October 9 – Germany

Meeting with Fashion University Students

On Wednesday and Thursday morning Sophal Sean and Demorng Vorng visited two German fashion universities. Together with CCC Germany partner FEMNET, they spoke to the students and teachers of the AMD Duesseldorf - 45 students attended - and the HTW Berlin - nearly 100 students.

Garment worker Sophal Sean gave a presentation about the working conditions in the Cambodian garment industry and the trade unionist Dermong Vorng spoke about her work at the trade union and the campaign for a minimum wage increase to US$177. The audience of more than hundred students were really impressed and moved by the strength and the stories of the two testimonies. Following the presentation, an interesting discussion started and many questions were raised, including what can be done to support the garment workers in Cambodia.