Cambodian garment industry strike, 2013-14

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In December 2013 and January 2014, an industry-wide strike against garment factories occurred in Cambodia. Violence occurred on the evening of January 2nd and morning of the 3rd. Four workers have been shot dead and one is missing and presumed dead. Allegedly, Molotov cocktails and rocks were thrown at police. Public assemblies of more than 9 people were banned. The most serious violence occurred at the Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh, when military police used live ammunition, tear gas, and grenades to attack protesters.[1] Twenty three activists were jailed. On February 10th, a Global Day of Action was staged in front of Cambodian consulates in countries such as South Korea, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, and Bangladesh to demand a release of those prisoners. On February 11th, the Appeals Court in Phnom Penh denied bail to 21 of the 23.

Cambodia's garment industry employs about 600,000 people, ninety percent of whom are women. Their trade union leaders are mostly men because women are regarded as `not strong enough'.[2] The garment industry in Cambodia is 93 percent foreign-owned. The immediate owners are mostly South Korean, Taiwanese, Hong-Kong, and Singaporean businessmen. They act as provisioners to Western retail chains. Seventy percent of the garments made in Cambodia go to the United States. About 350,000 workers went on strike. They are asking for a monthly wage of $160. The government has raised the monthly minimum wage to $100 from $80.

Notes

  1. Baird, Asian Correspondent, Jan 10, 2014
  2. Michelle Tolson, Women's Media Center, Feb 13, 2014

Sources

Michelle Tolson, `The West's Dirty Laundry', Womens Media Center February 13, 2014.

Robert Baird, `Civil society groups ramp up pressure on Cambodian govt', Asian Correspondent Jan 10, 2014 6:39PM UTC

Wage Indicator Foundation http://www.wageindicator.org/main/salary/living-wage/living-wage-map (They say a living wage in Cambodia is $160 a month).