Garment workers in Cambodia cost a small fraction of what you pay for your t-shirt or shoes.

discrimination-workers-cambodia-retailersIn October 2015 Cambodia lifted the official minimum wage of a garment worker to $US140 per month. The big unions had initially demanded $177 per month in view of the high cost of living in Phnom Penh, home to most garment factories.

The decision followed a vote among representatives of the government, factories and unions, in which the majority supported a raise from the current $128 to $135, which the government then increased to $140.

Not that the Government has a history of being generous. In early 2014, at least four people were killed and more than 20 were injured when police outside Cambodia’s capital opened fire to break up a protest by striking garment workers.

The clothing and footwear industry, 90% of staff of whom are women, is Cambodia’s biggest export earner, employing about 700,000 people in more than 700 garment and shoe factories. In 2014, the Southeast Asian country shipped more than $6 billion worth of products to the United States and Europe.

The average workweek of a garment factory worker is almost 60 hours, and conditions are often very poor by western standards. Check out this link to a report (Work faster or get out!) prepared by Human Rights Watch.

Their report was well researched: and is based on interviews with more than 340 people, including 270 workers from 73 factories in Phnom Penh and nearby provinces, union leaders, government representatives, labor rights advocates, the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, and international apparel brand representatives.

Of some 200 apparel brands that source from Cambodia, Human Rights Watch was in contact with Adidas, Armani, Gap, H&M, Joe Fresh, and Marks and Spencer.

Some of these brands are getting their act together to prevent exploitation and abuses of the garment workers (do over time or get fired, sexual harassment, child labour etc)  but certainly not all.  Next time you buy Made in Cambodia (which should be a good thing) check the policies of the brands you’re supporting.  On a thirty dollar item, the labour component is probably no more than $1.50.

Advertisements

H&M pledges fair living wage to suppliers

Fashion label with a conscience. A slow reaction to Cambodian and Bangladesh worker safety? While fashion labels announce new minimum wages on November 23rd Cambodia’s garment workers made a claim for $150 per month to be the new minimum: a lot higher than H&M or Walmart have been discussing.

ihqtest

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 18.31.31

High street fashion chain H&M has announced that it plans to pay a fair living wage to all of its suppliers.Helena Helmersson, the brand’s head of sustainability, unveiled the company’s ‘road map’ at the European Conference on Living Wages this week. The new scheme focuses on wage development at the factories of its suppliers by demanding that all those who work to make H&M products have their wages negotiated and annually reviewed, involving democratically elected trade unions or worker representatives.

READ: H&M’s plans to spotlight sustainability

Although H&M is to be applauded for the scheme, it is going to be a slow process. In September 2011 the brand joined the Fair Wage Network initiative which assessed more than 200 of their key suppliers’ factories (they currently source from 1,800 factories). By 2014 they will 850,000 workers across three ‘model’ factories in Cambodia and Bangladesh under the fair wage scheme and…

View original post 56 more words