Category Archives: Cambodia

E-Action: Support Hotel Workers In Cambodia

This appeal for online support comes from the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF).  Below is the story, you can send your message here.

Workers unfairly terminated for trade union organizing at the five star Angkor Village Hotel and Angkor Village Botanical Resort Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia, are fighting for their rights, their jobs and their union – and need your support. With the support of the IUF-affiliated Cambodian Tourism and Service Workers’ Federation (CTSWF), unions were legally formed at the two hotels in July this year. The owners retaliated by dismissing a total of 67 of the 90 workers at both hotels. The owners have defied rulings of the government Arbitration Council, court orders and official mediation that the workers were unjustly dismissed and must be reinstated in their jobs. The workers continue to peacefully demonstrate at the hotels despite police intimidation and arrests. You can support them by using the form below to send a message to the owners demanding the immediate reinstatement of all dismissed workers with back pay, and the recognition of their unions.

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E-Action: Support Garment Workers in Cambodia

The Clean Clothes Campaign has posted this online action in support of 300 garment workers in Cambodia who were fired back in September for striking, as part of the nationwide strikes and protests over minimum wage negotiations.  Since that time, attempts to have these workers, many of whom are union leaders, reinstated have been unsuccessful.  You can read more about this campaign and send a message in support of these workers by going here.

“Who Killed Chea Vichea?”

I just had the opportunity to see a great new documentary Who Killed Chea Vichea? A Documentary About An Untrue Story.  The film tells the story of the assassination of Cambodian labor leader Chea Vichea and the subsequent cover-up.  You can watch a trailer for the film below.

Rising Labor Militancy In Asia, Is This A Trend?

Cambodian workers attend a rally during a strike last week at the Chinese-owned Pine Great Cambodia Garment Co. in Phnom Penh. (Chor Sokunthea, Reuters / September 12, 2010)

In the wake of the garment workers strikes in Cambodia that have involved the walkout of 30,000 – 60,000 workers at factories supplying a number of international brands (Adidas, GAP, Puma), there is talk in the press about increased labor militancy in Asia.  This AFP article (“Global brands face growing labour militancy in Asia“) points to protests in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, and India as making up a trend of rising labor militancy.  This comes about a month after the Financial Times also ran a very similar article on increased labor militancy in Asia.

While one can point to newsworthy labor protests in the past year in many countries in South & Southeast Asia, it’s still worth raising the question of whether this is a “trend” or not.  Can we say that minimum wage protests in Indonesia, garment worker strikes in Cambodia, and autoworker strikes in China are part of the same phenomenon?

I won’t be so bold as to attempt to answer this question.  I must admit I was initially skeptical, particularly when the AFP article’s Indonesian example was minimum wage protests on May Day, which might be consider a run-of-the-mill, annual occurrence.  However, it will interesting to continue watching the coverage for evidence that this is a trend.  For example, to the credit of the Financial Times article, they do put forward one possible cause, the rising prices of basic goods.

Also of interest is a quote in an LATimes article on the Cambodian garment strikes from Ath Thun,  president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, which puts it in similar terms:

Those protests [in other countries] encouraged us.  Garment workers in those countries received more wages when they protested, so we thought we should too, since our wages are also unacceptably low.

In the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see how this is covered and arguments about the cause of what some are calling a trend in labor militancy in Asia.

E-Action: Support Cambodian Construction Workers

Building and Wood Workers International (BWI) is conducting a campaign in support of construction workers attempting to organize a union at KC GECIN Enterprise in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  On August 12th, workers notified the company that had formed a union, the next day 29 key union members were dismissed.  These firings came only 10 days after the company dismissed 25 workers for attending trade union training.

By following the link, you can send a message urging the company to reinstate the dismissed workers, stop intimidation tactics, and recognize the workers’ union.

Still Sweating In Cambodia

The central challenge in the poorest countries is not that sweatshops exploit too many people, but that they don’t exploit enough.  – Nicholas Kristof

A couple months back, Ken Silverstein of Harpers wrote a feature on the conditions of garment workers in Cambodia called “Shopping For Sweat: The Human Cost of a Two-Dollar T-Shirt.”  It appears you can read a full version of the article online, even if you are not a subscriber to Harpers.  In some ways, it might seem the article isn’t revealing must that is new about the issue of sweatshops in the garment industry, but it does offer an important reminder that the issue has not gone away just because corporations have enacted toothless codes of ethics.  It also offers critiques of Cambodia’s “sweat-free” reputation and the view that sweatshop conditions are a necessary phase in a countries economic development.