Australians Join Global Campaign to Support Cambodian Garment Workers

11-Feb-2014 Australian workers are today taking part in a global show of support for Cambodian garment workers facing ongoing violent attacks by their Government while campaigning for a decent, living wage.

In a protest outside the Cambodian Embassy in Canberra, one of many actions taking place around the world, Australian workers will deliver 2 letters to the Cambodian Ambassador calling for the immediate release of all arrested workers, the provision of medical treatment for the injured and a return to the bargaining table to reach agreement on a decent, living wage for the textile and garment industry.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the international community would not stand by silently as workers are killed fighting for basic conditions.

“The situation in Cambodia is deeply worrying and Australian Unions join with Unions from around the world to condemn the actions of the Cambodian Government and call on them to urgently investigate these unnecessary deaths and increase the grossly inadequate minimum wage.

"Research shows that Cambodia’s garment industry has an annual turnover of US$5.1billion so it's clear they can afford to pay more than the monthly minimum wage of US $100."

IndustriALL research shows that a minimum of US$260 is needed to cover basic expenses of a family of four so urgent action is needed for these workers.

UnionsACT Secretary, Kim Sattler said the Cambodian economy has enjoyed recent growth due to many corporations moving there from China following an increases in costs resulting from wage rises.

"Much of this growth is in the textile and clothing sector. At present there are over 500,000 workers in the Cambodian textile industry yet these workers are paid a pathetic $100USD per month," Ms Sattler said.

"These workers who get by on poverty wages have taken peaceful industrial action because they have been denied a monthly living wage. However, due to their peaceful action, the Cambodian Government has killed 4 workers and imprisoned another 23 people.

“UnionsACT comes here today to call upon the Cambodian Government to put an end to this violence, to release the 23 imprisoned workers and to honour their wishes by allowing Cambodian workers a modest increase to the minimum wage. “

TCFUA National Secretary Michele O’Neil said that imports into Australia of garments made in Cambodia are on the rise.

"Many Australians would be wearing clothes made in these Cambodian factories with brands such as Kmart, Target, Pacific Brands and Big W all relying upon Cambodian manufacturing.

"With the horrific scenes of garment workers in Bangladesh only last year still fresh in our minds Australian companies should join the international brands demanding action from the Cambodian Government.

"No worker wherever they are in the world should be denied a living wage or face prison or death fighting to achieve one. The Cambodian Government must be held to account.”

APPHEDA Executive Officer Kate Lee said that she has seen first hand the situation of female workers in Cambodia.

"It’s vitally important that unions have the freedom to organise to get decent, secure and healthy jobs with adequate wages. There should be no repression of workers fighting for a living wage," Ms Lee said.

Details for the protest:
12:30pm, Monday 10 February 2014

Outside the Cambodian Embassy in Canberra, 5 Canterbury Crescent, Deakin

Contact for media: Tim McCann tel: 0413 048 520 and Michele O’Neil 0419 338 853