Cambodia’s garment strike met with police violence

Cambodia’s hundreds of garment manufacturers, which ceased operations after workers walked off the job demanding a 100 per cent wage increase in late December, will be relying on costlier air freight to meet deadlines and avoid late penalties, according to a Phnom Penh Post report.


Cambodia’s garment strike met with police violence


Cambodia’s hundreds of garment manufacturers, which ceased operations after workers walked off the job demanding a 100 per cent wage increase in late December, will be relying on costlier air freight to meet deadlines and avoid late penalties, according to a Phnom Penh Post report. An estimated 700,000 Cambodian garment, accessories and footwear workers (90 per cent of whom are women) are among the lowest paid in this globalised industry. They produce fashionable products sold at high prices in the West under big brand names like Gap, Walmart, H&M, Puma, Nike, Adidas, Columbia and Levi Strauss.

On December 24 last year, about 50,000 to 100,000 of these workers began taking strike action after their demand for a US$160 minimum monthly wage was met with an official offer of just US$95.

The strike was growing fast and began to combine with the political opposition’s call for new elections following a disputed general election result last year. However, brutal military intervention against the strikers on 2-3 January which resulted in the killing of at least four workers and serious injuries to many more have forced an uneasy suspension of the strike.

Many workers, some of whom have been badly beaten up according to the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), are still being detained in a military camp. LICADHO described the action as “worst state violence against civilians to hit Cambodia in fifteen years”.)