Cambodian officials meet with buyers from global brands on garment issues

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, May 26, 2014
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Cambodian officials, led by Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, on Monday met with a 18-member delegation representing global brands and trade unions to discuss garment worker rights and wages.

It was the second round of talks between Cambodian government officials and representatives of major brands including H&M, Gap, Levi's and Puma, as well as IndustriALL Global Union after a similar meeting held here in February.

Speaking to reporters after a two-hour closed-door meeting, Heng Sour, spokesman for the Ministry of Labor, said the meeting touched on the issues of minimum wages for workers, draft trade union law, and 23 labor activists and workers arrested during violent clashes in January.

"In the meeting, buyers called for the expedition of talks on minimum wages, urged for a draft trade union law by the end of this year, and wanted to see justice for the 23 detainees," he said.

According to Heng Sour, buyers also warned to reduce purchase orders from Cambodia if uncertainty and unpredictability in the garment and footwear sector still persisted due to strikes for higher wages.

The garment and shoe industry comprise 960 factories with about 620,000 workers. The sector is the kingdom's largest foreign exchange earner that generated about 5.5 billion U.S. dollars in revenues last year.

Wage dispute in the industry remains hot since pro-opposition trade unions, which represent about 19 percent of the total workers, still demand the government and the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) to raise the monthly minimum wages for workers to 160 U.S. dollars from the current 100 U.S. dollars.

The 23 detainees were arrested in January during higher wage demanding protests that left four people dead and dozens injured. The Phnom Penh Municipal Court will issue a verdict for them on May 30.

Heng Sour said violent garment protests in late December and early January cost the sector over 500 million U.S. dollars in terms of property destruction and loss on sales.

The delegation of global brands is also scheduled to meet separately with the representatives of GMAC and trade unions on these matters on Tuesday. Endi

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