Ongoing Labour Dispute in Cambodia

00-06, Ongoing Labour Dispute in Cambodia

For menCalvin KlienBelow is information on the recent widescale strikes involving garment workers in Cambodia. Note that while the strikes have stopped, for now, the issues in question (including the minimum wage) have not been settled. According to the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the hardship that workers were enduring (no income) resulted in their returning to work. The FTUWKC notes that letters supporting efforts to get the Garment Manufacturers Association to enter into negotiatons with the unions are still necessary. They request that letters be sent to the GMAC, the Ministry of labour and the companies that produce garments at the factories where strikes took place.



(source: Monthly Newsletter of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, second edition , June 2000, vol. 2, no. 6)

Workers from up to 69 different garment factories went on strike from June 21 to 27 in order to demand a rise in the minimum wage from US$40 to US$70 per month.
The current $40 minimum was set by an agreement between employers and government in January 1997. For at least two years, workers and unions have demanded negotiations on a minimum wage increase and finally managed to put in on the agenda of the tripartite Labour Advisory Committee on June 20. However, the Committee did not come to any resolution, thereby prompting the week-long strike.

The Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC) is the only Cambodian union which currently supports an increase of the minimum wage above US$50 per month. Based on World Bank estimates of inflation, the minimum wage should have increased to $50 per month at the end of 1998, just to keep up with the rise in consumer prices. The Cambodian Labor Organization (CLO) has published a survey showing that the average five person household in Phnom Penh spends $191 per month. The study also estimated that living costs in Phnom Penh, where the garment industry is centered, are 80% higher than in other urban areas throughout Cambodia. Furthermore, using figures published by the Garment Manufacturers' Association (GMAC) in the Cambodia Daily in May, the Free Trade Union estimates that a wage increase to US$70 per month will only increase by production costs by 2.8% because wages make up only a fraction of production costs in Cambodia. Currently, the Labour Advisory Committee is set to meet on July 6 to reopen negotiations. The initial meeting on June 20 ended when the Cambodian Union Federation (CUF) and the Cambodian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (CFITU) said they needed to do more research on the minimum wage issue. All Cambodian unions met on June 24 to develop a joint platform. Although, they were unable to agree on a final figure for the minimum wage, they did agree that it should be increased and they agreed on several issues regarding bonuses and overtime allowances. Unless the GMAC agrees to negotiate earlier, this platform will be presented at the Labour Advisory Committee on July 6. Workers have vowed to continue striking in the future if there is no resolution on the minimum wage issue.

The June 20 Labour Advisory Committee meeting was the first time ever, that Cambodian workers were able to participate in a discussion regarding wages.
Many workers feel that the lack of any resolution on the minimum wage is a symbol for the continued neglect of their concerns and demands by employers and government.

Contact information

Mr. Van Sou Ieng
President GMAC
90 Sihanouk Boulevard
Boeung Kang Kang I
Phnom Penh
Tel & Fax (855 23) 724 896 or 721003

Labour Ministry:
Mr. Sam Heng
Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour
68 Norodom Blvd.
Phnom Penh
Fax: 855-23-723-592

Contact the companies who produce garments at the facilities which participated in the strike:

Hannah Jones
Director Nike
European Government and Community Affairs
165 Avenue Louise
Brussels 1050
Fax: 322-646-6908

The Gap:
Donald Fisher, Chairman
The Gap, Inc.
One Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

C&A/SOCAM (that's C&A's internal monitoring company):

Nico Blaauw
Director of Communications
C&A Services
Jean Monnetlaan
D 1804 Vilvoorde
Fax: 322-257-6880

Winfried Sternemann
Alcide de Gasperilaan
B-1800 Vilvoorde Belgium
Fax: 322-257-6621

Fax: 00-46-824-8078

Polo Ralph Lauren:
Ralph Lauren
Chairman and CEO
Polo Ralph Lauren
650 Madison Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10022
United States
Fax: 001-212-318-7183

Calvin Klein:
Unilever (parent company of Calvin Klein)
Fax: 00-31-10-217-4798

other brands produced in these factories include: Bugle Boy, Haggar, Osh Kosh


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