A LETTER FROM PRESIDENT OF CAMBODIAN WORKERS UNION CONFIRMS THE RELEASE OF ALL IMPRISONED WORKERS FOLLOWING VIOLENT PROTESTS IN JANUARY.
After release 23 political prisoners today,On be haft of CLC and CCAWDU I would like to address his remark regarding to struggling to release 23 political detainees and minimum wage demand in Cambodia.
“In fact, we are really surprised and excited that the government and the court decided to release 23 political detainees. Nevertheless, the political detainees were accused without proper reasons or evidence. Their release was a result of significant pressure from a number of major brands sourcing in Cambodia after significant pressure from national and international organizations, including the ITUC, UNI, and CCC as well as foreign embassies. This victory is the first step. The trade union movement will continue to fight for a minimum wage of USD $160 for garment and textile workers and to ensure the protection of workers’ rights, decent work and dignity”. He also added that “ Thus, we would like to request you, friends and colleagues, to continue struggling to ensure brands to push their suppliers, as well as Cambodian government to increase minimum wage 160 US Dollar per month, drop all charges against union leaders, and stop the discrimination against and brutal repression of unions. This significant victory is good sign for workers as well as the Cambodian people as a whole and provides a platform from which we can build future success in our struggle”. More importantly, Kong Athit, Secretary General of CLC, says: “The workers of Cambodia welcome this fantastic and unexpected news. Finally there is justice for Pao Vorn and the other 22 activists, who were wrongfully detained for 140 days! But this is not the end of our struggle; the situation of unions and unionists inCambodia remains very difficult and dangerous. We will make that very clear whenCambodia has to appear next week before the ILO’s Committee for the Application of Standards. So, we call upon our international allies to keep on supporting us in our struggle for a free and democratic Cambodia.
Groups call on global clothing brands to use their influence to achieve an end to repression against workers involved in wage protests and the resumption of good-faith wage negotiations.
Labour rights groups and trade unions across the world are expressing outrage at the brutal violence and repression in Cambodia following demonstrations by garment and footwear workers calling for a raise in the minimum wage.
The groups, including Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights Forum, Worker Rights Consortium, Maquila Solidarity Network, United Students Against Sweatshops, International Union League for Brand Responsibility, Workers United, SEIU, Framtiden i våre hender, and CNV Internationaal, The Netherlands, are calling on global clothing brands to take immediate action and contact the Cambodian government demanding:
- Immediate end to all violence and intimidation against workers and their representatives;
- Release of all those who have been detained for participation in the struggles;
- Respect for freedom of association and the workers’ right to strike;
- Refraining from charging the workers and trade union leaders who have participated in the strike;
- Resumption of good-faith minimum wage negotiations; and
- Ensuring all those responsible for the violence against the strikers are held to account.
Violence against garment workers began after Cambodian unions called a national strike on December 24, 2013. Workers were demanding an increase in the minimum wage to USD 160 per month. As protests continued, the police and military responded with violence on January 2 and 3, killing at least 4 people and injuring almost 40.
Seven brands sent an open letter to the Government of Cambodia on January 7 expressing their concerns over the recent violence. It is commendable that these brands are willing to speak up and appalling that so many others have remained silent in the face of such blatant human rights violations in their sector. The letter did not go far enough however, in denouncing the reprehensible conduct of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which has condoned the government’s use of deadly force against striking workers. As poverty wages are at the root of the demonstrations, global clothing brands must also recognise the role they play and take immediate action including:
- Publicly stating that any future apparel and footwear orders in Cambodia depend on:
- an immediate end to the violence against workers;
- the release of all those detained in the wage protests and the dropping of all charges;
- government re-establishing the right to strike and assemble;
- Paying fair prices to factories, sufficient to enable employers to pay a decent wage;
- Supporting the workers’ call for a substantial increase in the minimum wage (to USD 160); and
- Committing to maintaining buying volumes from Cambodia if wages were to rise.
“Whilst our primary concern is the safety and well-being of those workers who have been detained, we are also calling on brands to look at the long-term implications of their purchasing practices.” said Jeroen Merk of the Clean Clothes Campaign. “Until brands recognise that these practices contribute to the poverty wages received by workers in Cambodia, and in turn the demonstrations we are witnessing, then no brand sourcing from Cambodia can claim to be acting fairly or decently.”
Cambodia’s garment industry employs over 500,000 people, is responsible for around 95% of Cambodia’s export industry and is worth €3.38 billion a year. The minimum wage falls a long way short of a living wage, and the poverty wages workers receive contribute to shocking levels of malnutrition amongst the mainly young female workforce.
“These latest horrific developments demonstrate why authorities can no longer afford to ignore the social problems and poor living conditions facing workers in Cambodia today,” said Tola Meoun, Head of Labor Programmes for the Cambodian NGO Community Legal Education Centre.
Update February 7th
23 people have been detained. Until January 8, their whereabouts was unknown. Confirmation was received that they were being held in CC3 Prison, an isolated prison located two hours from Kampong Cham town northeast of the capital, Phnom Penh. The next bail hearing for the 23 detained is scheduled for next Tuesday, 11 February.
Update Febraury 11th
Bail has been denied to the 21 remaining detained workers
We are sorry to report that this morning bail was refused for 21 of the 23 Cambodian men who were detained during January’s wage struggles.
The bail hearings were held in a closed session this morning, February 11th, with none of the 21 men in attendance. All 21 men remain in the CC3 jail north of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, which is notorious for its harsh conditions. Two of the original 23 detainees, were released on bail last Saturday.
We are extremely disappointed at this turn of events and will continue to fight for their immediate release alongside our partners in Cambodia and around the world.
You can still show your support.
Sign the Petition in support of the remaining detained workers.
The below email will be sent for the attention of the Cambodian Ambassedor stationed at the Cambodian Embassy in the UK.
**PLEASE NOTE YOUR SIGNATURE HAS BEEN RECORDED ONCE YOU CLICK SEND. WE ARE WORKING ON FIXING THE TECHNICAL ISSUE WITH THIS PROCESS AT THE MOMENT[emailpetition id=”6″]