Attacked for standing up for their rights

After firing 33 workers in 2007 and illegally dismissing eight union leaders in 2010, the E-Garment factory located just outside Phnom Penh engaged in several violent and unprovoked attacks on employees who were peacefully protesting against the company’s refusal to reinstate their colleagues. After lengthy protests, an agreement was signed ensuring the rights of workers to return to their jobs and for proper compensation.
"If Cambodian police arrest international NGO representatives for simply standing outside a factory, I can only imagine the level of union repression and lack of human rights here. Last month a woman from this factory who was five months pregnant was attacked. Why are they arresting us and not the people who beat these workers?" - Michaela Königshofer, Austrian CCC activist

This case dates back to 2007, when the E-Garment management dismissed 33 workers in retaliation for their support for and participation in the activities of the independent trade union Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU). Another eight C.CAWDU leaders were dismissed in 2010. A lengthy process of protests and negotiations began.

Workers started a strike on 28 January 2013 after the factory management refused to implement an agreement signed with C.CAWDU to reinstate the 33 dismissed union members – thus ignoring a legal ruling of the Cambodian Arbitration Council – and continued to refuse the reinstatement of the eight C.CAWDU union leaders.

Brutally attacked

On February 21 2013 seven protesters were brutally attacked and beaten by thugs with iron bars and nail-studded clubs, resulting in the hospitalisation of four of them. The repressive atmosphere became clear once again when a delegation of the Clean Clothes Campaign visited the striking workers early March 2013 and were detained by the police and questioned for over 6 hours.

An agreement on the reinstatement and compensation of the workers was finally signed on in March 2013 between the trade union  (C.CAWDU) and the E-Garment management.

Read more about what is happening in Cambodia in the Spotlight page presenting interviews with workers and activists, video's and an interactive timeline about last year's events.


See also:

European activists detained by Cambodian police at garment protest

Repression at Cambodian garment factory continues