Shot for asking $10

published 03-10-2013 14:16, last modified 10-10-2013 14:10
In February 2012 over a thousand workers from three factories were protesting for better working conditions, including a salary increase of $10 per month over their $61 per month minimum wage. Then there was a shooting in front of the Kaoway Sports company, and three young female protestors were shot. One of them needed intensive care treatment in the capital Phnom Penh.
“I am not even thinking of my arm now. Just what I can do to have enough food. Even though my arm still hurts, I will still go to work.”

Nea, one of the workers who was shot

The Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and its partner organisations followed up with Puma, the main buyer of the factory, which resulted in the pay rise workers had demanded and a joint call by several brands to the government to investigate the shooting. The shooting appeared to have been perpetrated by the former local governor, Chouck Bundith.

In an initial statement Puma denied any responsibility for the events. Following CCC’s intervention and considerable press coverage they issued further statements, acknowledging that they had been buying from Kaoway Sports and were prepared to pay for the women’s hospital care and follow-up treatment.

The workers subsequently received the pay rise they had struggled for. Together with other buyers, Puma urged the Cambodian authorities to investigate the shooting, and promised to observe the legal proceedings about the case. At the time of writing (September 2013) the court case has still not been opened.

''I am scared every day because he is still in town.”

Chenda, one of the workers who was shot, about the former local governor who allegedly shot the workers

Local human rights NGOs are following up on the court case.

What do companies and Multi Stakeholder Initiaves think of the CCC? *

“CCC has been one of the defining influences on code of conduct over the last 10 years. Codes of conduct have moved from being a fringe idea to a central plank of single CSR policy in the industry. A large part of that is because CCC internationally have been a champion for the role of brands taking action... and have placed and kept the issue in the public domain.”

“CCC have had impact by raising our awareness, triggering the development of our code of conduct and our subsequent mechanisms on monitoring, disclosure practises, decision to join MSI, training and follow-up.”

“If there is a critical situation in a factory that we have not become aware of ourselves, we do of course react immediately, if this is brought to our attention by CCC.”

“All activities raise awareness but do not change policies, urgent appeals have most impact to improve or change the way of working with a supplier or improve a situation if needed.”

* Quotes from internal report that assesses how Clean Clothes Campaign's labour rights corporate accountability work, including the Urgent Appeal system, has impacted corporate behavior between 1994 and 2010.

Pins Brown, 2010. Impact Assessment of Corporate Accountability Activities of Clean Clothes Campaign. Unpublished report on file.