Cambodian garment workers fight for a living wage.
Since late 2013 Cambodian workers have been demanding an increase in the minimum wage in order to take crucial steps towards the payment of a living wage. The current minimum wage in Cambodia is just US$100 just a quarter of what the Asia Floor Wage Alliance estimate to be a living wage for the country.
Garment workers across the country have been calling on the Cambodian Government to raise the minimum wage significantly, as a step towards the payment of a living wage since late in 2013. In early January wage struggles escalated when police and military cracked down on wage protests and 23 workers were arrested.
The wage board in Cambodia is set to announce a new minimum wage figure to take effect in January 2015 in early October.
Time for brands to take action
The Cambodian Government and the employers association GMAC, often cite the brands leaving Cambodia as a reason for not increasing the minimum wage. The global brands that rely on Cambodian workers including H&M, Inditex-owned Zara, Adidas and C&A, are being called upon to take action.
“Brands continue to squeeze the already small profit margins. It is high time brands take their responsibility and tackle the issue which lies at the heart of our protests: a living wage.”
Ath Thorn, C.CAWDU
On September 17 tens of thousands of workers across Cambodia took action, wearing t-shirts with the US$177 demand at their work benches and calling on global brands sourcing from Cambodia to show leadership and commitment in taking steps towards the payment of a living wage by immediately:
- guaranteeing a minimum wage of at least US$177 in their supply chains in Cambodia with immediate effect.
- make a long term commitment to continue their sourcing from Cambodia
- agree to increase their FoB price to reflect this increase
- engage with the Cambodian unions through legally binding collective bargaining agreements.
Three things you can do
You can take action and stand with Cambodian garment workers to ensure they earn a wage they can live on.
1. Sign our Living Wage petition - calling on brands to show leadership and take key steps to ensure a living wage is paid.
2. On Facebook? Follow Clean Clothes Campaign for all the latest news and actions.
3. On twitter? The latest news from the wage board will be tweeted from partners in Cambodia and around the world with the hashtag #weneed177
In response on September 18, key brands H&M, C&A, Inditex, N Brown Group plc, Tchibo, Next, Primark and New Look sent a letter to the Cambodian Government citing their commitment to a living wage.
They stated that they "expect an assured, inclusive and consistently applied national collective bargaining process between the legitimate parties within the labour market....including the labour, employer and government representatives."
Whilst the letter did not go as far as committing to a payment of US$177, the brands did acknowledge they would need to adapt their practices to ensure a living wage is possible "as responsible Business’ our purchasing practices will enable the payment of a fair living wage and increased wages will be reflected in our FOB prices."
You can read the full letter to the Cambodian Government here.
Spotlight on Cambodia
The garment industry in Cambodia is responsible for around 95% of all the country's exports and employs over 500,000 people, many of them women. Read more about how the current wages confine all those reliant on the industry to a cycle of poverty.