Cambodian Garment Workers: $160 We Need! Part 1 20131223-20140206

05:33:56 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

$160 We Need

Garment workers demanding $160 minimum wage

$160

30131223

* No End in Sight for Svay Rieng SEZ Strikes:

A union official at the center of a strike that started last Monday and involves an estimated 30,000 workers from two special economic zones (SEZs) in Svay Rieng province said Sunday that he has no control over the strikers, and does not know when or if they will return to work.

The 36 factories involved in the strike remained shut and workers remained at home on Friday and over the weekend in Bavet City’s Manhattan and Tai Seng Bavet SEZs, said Chheng Chhoan, secretary-general of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

“I’m not sure if they’ll come back to work or not. I’ve tried to explain to those workers that, on the minimum wage topic, a solution might not be found now,” he said.
“I explained to them all that if they do not come back to work, there will be no good results, but they don’t listen to me. Most just say they will not come back to work unless their demands are met with success.”

The strikers have said they will continue protesting until their minimum monthly wage is increased to $154.
The Labor Advisory Council (LAC) is set to meet on Tuesday to decide on proposals to increase the minimum wage. The Council of Ministers on Friday decided to recommend incremental yearly minimum wage increases to bring it to $160 by 2018.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Unionist firings inspire walkout:

About 1,000 workers at a Kandal province garment factory walked off the job on Saturday after management there fired eight employees who attempted to start a new union.

Management at Sixplus Industry Co, Ltd originally sacked 13 union activists on Friday afternoon, but later that evening said they would allow five of them back to work, said Mai Bun Hai, president of the new Independent Union for Worker Solidarity.

“They told me that they will allow us to create the union inside the company if we obey their wishes, but I declined and they sacked us immediately,” Bun Hai said yesterday.

Sixplus’ is now home to two unions: the Free Trade Union and the Labour of Khmer Children Union. Nearly 800 employees there have thumb-printed a petition demanding the reinstatement of the eight fired unionists, Bun Hai said.
The dismissals are a clear violation of Cambodia’s labour law, said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center.
Officials from Sixplus could not be reached for comment.
read more.
PPP new

* Sam Rainsy protests with workers in Bavet:

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy joined a rally on Monday, initiated by garment factory employees in the town of Bavet.

“I’m protesting with workers in the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in the town of Bavet, Svay Rieng province, to demand a raise in salary, ” he posted on his Facebook page.
During the rally, Sam Rainsy, urged protesting garment employees not to go to work unless they receive $160 per month.
Around 28,000 workers from the Manhattan Special Economic Zone as well as Tai Seng I and Tai Seng II have been on strike since December 17.
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

 20131224

* Nationwide protest for raise in pay may occur: union leader:

 A prominent union leader on Tuesday announced that factory employees will rally throughout the country to demand minimum wage be raised to $160 per month in 2014.

Chea Mony, President of Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia (FTUWC), made his announcement after the Ministry of Labor and Vocation Training announced their results of the wage talks earlier today.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Workers protest after wage talk results:

Hundreds of garment factory employees on Tuesday gathered in front of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training protesting the results of the wage talks.

The protesters surrounded and blocked the gates of the ministry with union leaders, representatives from the government and factories still inside.

Instead of achieving the $154 per month raise in wages the factory employees asked for, representatives from government, garment factories and labor unions decided to raise minimum wage from the current $80 to $95 in 2014, $110 in 2015, $126 in 2016, $143 in 2017 and $160 in 2018.

“This result was fruitful even though it doesn’t meet all of the demands requested by the workers,” said Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng after the talks.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Keep striking for $160, Rainsy urges:

Ahead of today’s Ministry of Labour announcement of a minimum wage increase for Cambodia’s apparel sector, opposition leader Sam Rainsy yesterday urged striking workers in Svay Rieng province to hold out until their monthly salary is raised to $160.

“[Garment] workers should not return to work until the government raises their minimum wage to $160,” Rainsy said in Bavet town to thousands of workers from Svay Rieng’s Manhattan and Tay Seng special economic zones. “We have to be together, I support all of you until you reach success, and I’ll be with you and protect you all.”
read more.  & read more.
PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Turmoil marks year in labour:

When unions and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) signed a memorandum of understanding in October last year, both sides were confident strikes in the Kingdom’s biggest export sector could be kept to a minimum.

“I believe strikes will be reduced, and we will solve our issues through legislative procedures,” Cambodian Labour Union Federation president Som Aun said at the time.
But despite intentions – and a $14 increase to the minimum wage for garment workers in May – 2013 has seen strikes in record numbers.
Not counting December, GMAC has recorded 131 strikes this year, the most since it began collecting data in 2003, and up from 34 in 2011, when a previous MoU was in place.
During strikes this year, a bystander has been shot dead by police, two women have miscarried after clashes with authorities, unionists have been jailed for months and factories have lost millions of dollars.

Building tensions
From the outset, 2013 shaped as a year of unrest in the Kingdom’s garment sector, which produces more than 85 per cent of total exports.
(…)
Low wages
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said the majority of strikes this year occurred due to low wages.
“Most of them happen because the discussions about increasing wages just take too long and often do not reach a suitable resolution,” he said.
As for the MoU, Mony said both employers and workers rarely abided by it.
“It’s good if both parties respect it, but [right now], the MoU has no effect on workers and employers.”
Dave Welsh, country manager for labour-rights group Solidarity Center, said he was still a supporter of the MoU.
read more.
PPP new

$160

20131225

* Home for the holidays:

Employees at hundreds of garment factories walked off the job yesterday after five labour unions called for a nationwide strike in the wake of the Ministry of Labour’s decision to raise the sector’s minimum wage by $15 next year, rather than the $80 increase they desired.

Yesterday morning, Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng announced that the monthly minimum wage for employees at garment and shoe factories – which now stands at $80, including a $5 health bonus – will rise to $95 in April.
Wages will climb another $15 in 2015, then $16 in 2016 and $17 in both 2017 and 2018, reaching a total of $160 by 2018.

The news was greeted with consternation by independent unions.

“We will go on strike because what we got is so much less than what we demanded,” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU). “Workers must demand more because they still earn low wages.”

In a joint statement released hours after the ministry’s decision, C.CAWDU, the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC), the Cambodia Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) and the Free Trade Union (FTU) declared more than 200,000 union workers at 300 factories will strike until the government agrees to set the minimum wage at $160.
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PPP new

* Monthly Wage Increased to $95, Unions Vow to Strike:

The government announced Tuesday that the minimum wage in the garment sector will be raised to $95 in April, a 19 percent increase over the current $80 monthly wage, as the first step in a five-year plan to raise the minimum wage to $160 by 2018.

Following the decision, which fell well short of unions’ demands for a 100 percent increase in the minimum wage next year, small-scale strikes and protests broke out across the country, while leaders of the country’s independent and opposition-aligned unions said they would organize nationwide strikes to force further increases.

Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng told reporters following the meeting of the Labor Advisory Council, the multiparty body that approves wage changes, that the government had given equal consideration to the demands of workers and factory owners.
“We wanted to raise wages more than this, but we couldn’t because raising the minimum wage depends on many factors, including living standards, production and competition to attract investors from neighboring countries,” Mr. Sam Heng said.

Despite the increase, wages in Cambodia remain among the lowest amid major garment-producing countries. Wages in China, Vietnam and Indonesia have increased sharply in recent years. Earlier this month, Bangladesh raised its minimum wage by 77 percent to $68.
(….)
Ath Thorn, CCAWDU’s president, who was one of the two union leaders who voted against the government’s proposal, said that his unions would not heed the labor minister’s warning not to protest.
“We will issue an announcement to reject the wage raise and we will prepare to hold a mass demonstration across the country to demand a higher wage raise,” Mr. Thorn said.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union (FTU), said that his members had already started striking over the decision, and predicted that union leaders would not be able to prevent more strikes in the coming days.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* CNRP sees allies in strikers:

Amid workers walking off the job in protest over the minimum garment wage, opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha last night threw their support behind widespread strikes.

On the 10th day of opposition demonstrations in the capital calling for Prime Minister Hun Sen to either resign or call a snap election, Rainsy and Sokha said that if garment workers strike en masse throughout the country today – as some unions have already begun to do – the climate will benefit the CNRP.

“From tomorrow,” Rainsy said at Freedom Park last night, “the situation for garment workers is going to change – and so is the political situation.
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PPP new

* Factory workers rally alongside opposition at Freedom Park:

Hundreds of footwear and garment factory employees rallied alongside the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Wednesday at Freedom Park to demand the country’s minimum wage rise to $160 per month.  

The factory workers joined in the opposition’s protest a day after the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training announced that wages will only be increased from $80 to $95 per month in April 2014.

The talks held yesterday between representatives from the government, factories and unions agreed to raise minimum wage for footwear and garment factory employees from $80 to $95 in 2014, $110 in 2015, $126 in 2016, $143 in 2017 and $160 in 2018.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Rainsy mobilizing workers to protest in Bavet:

Sam Rainsy, head of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), is in Svay Rieng on Wednesday to gather footwear and garment factory employees from the area to join in wage rally held in the town of Bavet.

Speaking to a crowd of workers, he announced that he will provide transportation for all factory workers in Svay Rieng to join in the Bavet rally.

“This is the time for all workers throughout the country to unite and rally to demand $160 per month,” he said.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Protest against new wage of $95 is illegal: Labor Ministry:

The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training on Wednesday said that any activities made by the  unions against the minimum wage of $95, agreed upon by the Labor Council, are against the law.

After the wage talks yesterday, the Labor Council agreed to raise the salaries of footwear and garment factory workers from the current $80 to $95 in 2014, $110 in 2015, $126 in 2016, $143 in 2017 and $160 in 2018.

The ministry said that the raise showed the efforts of the Cambodian government, employers and unions in promoting the livelihoods of Cambodian workers, while not negatively affecting the factories, and investments in Cambodia, according to a ministry statement.

“Any unions that hold protests against the decision made by the Labor Council Committee is committing an illegal act, affecting democratic procedure and themselves,” said the statement.
“The unions holding the protests must take full responsibility for their action before the law, and any consequences resulting from the protest incitement.”
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

 20131226

* Strike picks up steam:

20131226 PPP 2-Garment-Strike
Garment workers strike outside the Chu Hsing factory to demand a higher minimum wage yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district.
Photo by Vireak Mai

A nationwide garment factory strike began to take shape yesterday, as workers took to the streets a day after the Ministry of Labour announced they would raise the industry’s minimum wage by less than a quarter of what union leaders had demanded.

Union leaders immediately decried the Labour Ministry’s decision to raise minimum salaries in the garment sector to $95 in April, rather than the $160 minimum wage they supported.

“I hope officials will negotiate again on the minimum wage in order to end this dispute,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW). “If the government or the employers don’t, protests will grow larger and larger without ending.”

As of yesterday, 94 factories across Phnom Penh and several provinces had shuttered to join the strike, according to the Free Trade Union (FTU).

In a joint statement released hours after Tuesday’s decision, CUMW, FTU, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC) and the Cambodia Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) called for a national strike of garment workers until the government agreed to set the industry’s minimum wage to $160 in the coming year.
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PPP new

* Protesting workers block NR 2 demanding pay increase:

Hundreds of garment employees from the Macau-owned M & V International Manufacturing Ltd rallied in front of the factory on Thursday, blocking National Road two.

During the rally, protesting factory employees held banners and shouted their demand of a minimum wage increase of $160 per month.
Police forces and traffic policemen were seen being deployed to ease the traffic congestion.
Garment factory workers from two nearby factories were also seen holding their own rallies, demanding the same pay increase.
The protests and strike erupted at garment and footwear factories throughout the provinces and the capital after the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training announced the results of the wage talks.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* GMAC calls for factories to shutter:

As workers protest in their thousands, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) this morning strongly urged its member factories to close for the rest of this week, fearing strike-related violence.

“If the workers are working in the factories, some bad elements of the demonstrators will go around and destroy your factories gates and properties in order to force the workers out to join the demonstration to demand a wage of US$160,” reads a letter sent by email and obtained by the Post. “It is safer if there are no workers in the factories.”

Five labour unions called for a nationwide strike on Tuesday, hours after the Ministry of Labour announced that the minimum wage in Cambodia’s garment sector would rise next year from the current $80 – including a $5 health bonus – to $95, rather than the $160 workers want.
read more. & read more.
PPP new CAMHERALD

* Striking Factory Workers Join CNRP Protests:

More than 10,000 garment factory workers joined opposition CNRP protests Wednesday in Phnom Penh, while tens of thousands more went on strike at factories across the country, following the government’s decision on Tuesday to raise the minimum wage to $95, a figure that fell well short of workers’ demands.

Leaders of the country’s independent and opposition-aligned unions said that workers at more than 120 garment factories in five provinces were on strike over the government’s decision to raise the minimum wage by just $15, falling $65 short of their demand for a $160 monthly wage.
read more. & read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo CAMHERALD

* Protest paths converge:

Drawing on leader Sam Rainsy’s deep connections to the labour movement, the Cambodia National Rescue Party announced plans to mobilise strikers at factories this morning and lead thousands on marches around Phnom Penh.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said last night that elected lawmakers would be sent to factories to meet workers striking over the garment sector’s minimum wage.
“We will invite them to Freedom Park, and in the afternoon, we will march together around the city,” he said.
(…)
Although opposition demonstrations since July’s election have invariably involved garment workers, only in recent days – as they have begun striking across the country – has the CNRP intensified its focus on them.

The industry’s 400,000-plus workers are considered a demographic that contributed to the CNRP making significant gains at July’s election, which was awarded to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, 68 seats to 55.
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PPP new

* Pro-opposition’s trade unions rally against low wage hike for 2014 in Cambodia :

An estimated 3,000 garment workers from various factories rallied at the capital’s Freedom Park on Wednesday to protest against the low wage hike for 2014.

The strike was led by pro-opposition trade unions.
It happened a day after the government decided to raise a monthly minimum wage for a garment worker to 95 US dollars from April onwards from the current 80 US dollars.
Labor Minister Ith Samheng said Tuesday that the government also set to raise 15 US dollars for 2015, 16 US dollars for 2016 and 17 US dollars in both 2017 and 2018, so a garment worker will fetch a monthly minimum wage of 160 US dollars from 2018.
However, pro-opposition’s trade unions demanded to double the wage for workers from 2014.
read more.
globaltimes

$160

 20131227

* Strike numbers swell:

20131227 PPP Garment-Workers-Joing-CNRP-Freedom-Park
Garment workers who joined CNRP supporters at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh hold protest signs and demand that the minimum wage be increased yesterday. Photo by Hong Menea.

Arriving in bursts of 20, 30 and 50 at a time, thousands of garment workers filled Freedom Park yesterday afternoon, shouting slogans and holding aloft cardboard sheets bearing the figure “$160” hand-written in marker, amid a quickly growing national strike.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) reacted to the fluid situation earlier in the day, “strongly” suggesting its 473 member factories close until Monday in order to avoid possible strike-related violence and property damage, while the Ministry of Labour invited members of six unions to discuss a resolution at an emergency meeting today.

The explosion of strikers came two days after the Ministry of Labour announced it would raise Cambodian garment workers’ minimum wage – which now stands at $80, including a health bonus – to $95, rather than the $160 workers and unions demanded.
(…)
A letter from seven union groups – the CUMW, FTU, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the Coalition of Cambodian Unions (CCU), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), the Worker Friendship Union Federation (WFUF) and the Independent Youth Trade Union (IYTU) – addressed to GMAC executive committee chairman Van Sou Ieng and forwarded to the Labour Ministry yesterday claimed that nearly 250,000 people would join the strike if their demands are not met within a week.

“If you cannot meet all demands within one week, the unions and workers in every [garment] factory in the country will join demonstrations,” the letter says.

In addition to an industry-wide minimum wage of $160, the letter demanded $3 for meals each day for all workers, justice for people shot during a November clash between police and striking SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd workers, and four other points.

C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn said the seven-member coalition will consider ending the strike if wages are raised to $160, but more demands may come out of the woodwork as the strike continues.
“If there’s no progress, demands will get bigger and bigger,” Thorn said yesterday afternoon.
read & see more. (video).
PPP new

* Striking Garment Factory Workers Join CNRP Protest Again:

More than 10,000 striking garment factory workers again streamed into Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park throughout the day Thursday, joining opposition supporters on their 12th straight day of demonstrations and marches to demand that Prime Minister Hun Sen resign, and call a new election.

The workers, who have been on strike since Tuesday to demand the minimum monthly wage increase from $80 to $160, arrived in an string of noisy convoys that filled the park by lunchtime.
Thousands of the workers had turned out to the CNRP’s demonstration on Wednesday, and the party’s top leaders, including President Sam Rainsy, spent Thursday morning encouraging more to join the protest by visiting factories in Kandal, Kompong Speu and Kompong Chhnang provinces.

The morning consisted of the strikers dancing to music and giving brief speeches to air their grievances against Mr. Hun Sen’s government and call for the minimum wage to be raised to $160 immediately.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Factories Advised to Close as Wage Strikes Swell:

Cambodia’s garment manufacturers were advised to temporarily shut down operations Thursday as tens of thousands of workers at hundreds of factories joined nationwide strikes over wages, disrupting a $5 billion industry that accounts for about 80 percent of the country’s exports.

Rallies led by the opposition CNRP also continued to swell, reaching more than 10,000 people in the afternoon, as workers walked off the job and spent the day in Freedom Park, joining the 12th consecutive day of demonstrations calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Unions announce January strikes until goals achieved:

386 labor unions in Cambodia said that they will hold massive strikes beginning in January 2014 to demand minimum wage be raised to $160 per month along with other demands.

The unions representing 249,700 workers in the garment sector sent a letter to the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) on Thursday, announcing their intent to strike.
In the letter, the unions said that they will lead workers to strike and march along the streets until their demands are met.
Apart from demanding $160 per month for the footwear and garment sectors, they also demand $3 per day for food, and factory employers keep compensation at the National Treasury to be provided to workers when the factories are closed.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Three injured, three arrested in clash:

At least three police officers have been injured and three protesting workers arrested after a violent clash erupted in the Special Economic Zone of the Por Senchey district on Friday, according to reports.

The violence broke out after police officers at the site pushed protesting workers who were blocking National Road four.
During the clash, angry workers threw rocks and bottles at police forces.
In another part of the country, hundreds of protesting workers have blocked the road in front of the Ministry of Labor and the Prampi Makara overpass to demand that minimum wage be raised to $160 per month by 2014.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Hun Sen Encounters ‘Choh Chenh Tov’ Chants on Drive to Airport:

Prime Minister Hun Sen got an unexpected send-off from thousands of striking garment factory workers Thursday morning when his motorcade passed the marchers along Russian Boulevard as he traveled to Phnom Penh International Airport to depart for a three-day state visit to Vietnam.

Holding paper placards demanding a salary of $160 per month, many among a crowd of between 5,000 and 6,000 garment workers chanted “Hun Sen Euy! Choh Chenh Tov! [Hun Sen get out],” as the prime minister’s car and an accompanying entourage of senior government officials passed by the marchers.

Police and members of the prime minister’s personal bodyguard unit, who normally clear the streets of the city for Mr. Hun Sen’s motorcade to pass, appeared unable to keep the marching workers out of sight, and earshot, of the premier.

Marching with the workers, Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), said that 85 percent of the strikers encountered by the prime minister on Russian Boulevard had walked out of more than 20 garment factories in the city’s Choam Chao area and were en route to join the opposition party’s protest at Freedom Park.

“The worker marched from Choam Chao only to demand their main claim of wage rise,” Mr. Chhun said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodian police clash with protesting workers:

Cambodian police fired warning shots Friday during a brief clash with striking garment workers demanding higher wages, an official said.

The violence broke out when military police tried to move thousands of striking workers off a road on the outskirts of the capital Phnom Penh, according to Am Sam Ath of local rights group Licadho.
The workers then threw rocks at the authorities who fired “many warning shots” into the air and hit protesters with their batons, he told AFP.
Several people on both sides were reportedly injured.

Disputes over wages and safety conditions are common in Cambodia’s multi-billion dollar garment industry which supplies brands like Gap, Nike and H&M.
read more.
CAMHERALD

Cambodian police free 3 detained workers in clash:

Cambodian anti-riot police on Friday released three striking workers who were involved in a brief clash at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Friday morning, police and rights group said.

The clash between anti-riot police and striking workers left at least three police officers and four workers injured.
“We just detained them a few hours for education; then, we released them,” Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, told Xinhua.
The clash happened when a few thousand striking workers blocked the national road in front of the zone on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and hurled stones at police and factories, he said.
“These were illegal acts, we have to crack down on them, we could not allow them to cause anarchy and chaos,” he said, adding that as of Friday afternoon, workers are still blocking the road.

According to a Xinhua’s photojournalist who was at the scene, about 500 anti-riot police officers are deployed to protect the zone while around 2,000 striking workers are continuing their blockade of the National Road No. 4 in front of the zone.
Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for the rights group Licadho, said at least four workers were injured by police batons.
“Now, they’re still confronting each other. We’re concerned that the situation will get worse if there is no any solution,” he told Xinhua over telephone.

Meanwhile, several thousand other workers have gathered in front of the Ministry of Labor in Phnom Penh to demand that the government double their wages from 2014.
Since Wednesday, tens of thousands of garment workers in hundreds of factories have walked out of their work in protest against low wage hike for 2014.
read more.
globaltimes

* Factories to lose millions:

The economic fallout from garment worker protests and the industry’s response is expected to cost the key sector millions of dollars while tarnishing the country’s reputation among international buyers, interviews with suppliers and figures from previous periods of labour unrest show.

Disputes over wages came to a head yesterday when the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) issued a letter to its 400-plus members urging them to cease operations for a week amid escalating protests.

The letter, which said the shutdown would avoid confrontations, came two days after unions called for a strike in response to the Ministry of Labour’s announcement that wages in the garment sector would rise to $95 in 2014, rather than the immediate hike to $160 that workers demanded.
A coalition of garment and textile unions predicts that more than 200,000 workers from 300 factories will eventually join the strike action.
read more.
PPP new

* BetterFactories Media Updates 21-27 December 2013:

* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-12-23 Unionist firings inspire walkout
2013-12-24 Keep striking for $160, Rainsy urges
2013-12-24 Turmoil marks year in labour
2013-12-25 CNRP sees allies in strikers
2013-12-25 Home for the holidays
2013-12-26 Protest paths converge
2013-12-26 Strike picks up stream
2013-12-27 Factories to lose millions
2013-12-27 Strike numbers swell

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-12-23 Government proposes $160 for new minimum wage
2013-12-23 No end in sight for Svay Rieng SEZ strikes
2013-12-24 Sam Rainsy visits Svay Rieng’s protesting SEZ workers
2013-12-25 Monthly wage increased to $95, unions vow to strike
2013-12-26 Striking factory workers join CNRP protests
2013-12-27 Factories advised to close as wage strikes swell
2013-12-27 Striking garment factory workers join CNRP again

BetterFactories Media updates overview here.
BF NEW

$160

20131228-29

20131228 * Workers Block Roads, Vow Further Strikes:

Thousands of striking garment factory workers blocked two major thoroughfares in Phnom Penh on Friday, demanding that the government raise the minimum wage to $160, instead of the $95 figure that was decided upon earlier this week.

An official at the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said that the majority of more than 400 factories in the association remained closed on Friday in order to protect their workers and work sites from potentially violent elements in the demonstrations.

Beginning in the morning and continuing late into the afternoon, groups of striking workers demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Labor and Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (SEZ), blocking traffic along Russian Boulevard and National Road 4.

More than 10,000 workers once again joined supporters of the opposition CNRP in Freedom Park for the 13th straight day of demonstrations calling for fresh elections and the removal of Prime Minister Hun Sen—and an increase of the minimum wage to $160.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20131228 * Violent clash as garment strike intensifies:

A nationwide garment worker strike intensified yesterday with at least one violent clash, even as authorities and Ministry of Labour officials agreed to continue negotiations with labour unions and industry officials on Monday.

More than 1,000 strikers blocked Russian Boulevard in front of the Labour Ministry yesterday, as union groups continued to demand a minimum monthly wage of $160 for garment workers next year – rather than the $95 announced Tuesday – and six additional points including a daily $3 food allowance for all workers.

Garment workers currently earn a minimum wage of $80, which includes a $5 health bonus.

A meeting of six union groups and Labour Ministry officials yesterday ended with no resolution, but the unions – the Free Trade Union (FTU), the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the Coalition of Cambodian Unions (CCU), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), the Worker Friendship Union Federation (WFUF) and the Independent Youth Trade Union (IYTU) – will gather again Monday morning at the ministry for a negotiating session with the the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn, who attended this afternoon’s meeting.

Monday’s meeting appears to be a sincere effort on the government’s part to renegotiate the $95 minimum wage, said Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center.
“I’m pretty confident that they’re looking to renegotiate the minimum wage they announced,” Welsh said after the meeting.
read more.
PPP new

20131228 * Workers continue block of NR 4:

Thousands of factory workers on Saturday continue to block National Road four located in the district of Por Senchey, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Anti-riot police forces were seen being deployed at the Special Economic Zone, to maintain order and provide security for workers and the residents of the area.
The angry garment factory workers have blocked the road since Friday in their quest for a pay raise of $160 per month.
Violence broke out that same day after military-police officers tried to chase the protesters from the area in order to alleviate traffic and open up the road.
The officers also fired warning shots into the air after irate workers threw rocks at them.
read more.
CAMHERALD

20131228 * Defense Minister Warns Protesters Against Blocking Streets:

Striking garment factory workers and protesting CNRP supporters should respect people of other nationalities and make sure they act within the boundaries of the law, Defense Minister Tea Banh said Thursday.

Speaking at an opening ceremony for three new Royal Cambodian Armed Force science laboratory buildings, General Banh said that demonstrating is legal, but protesters should not block roads, and he accused the opposition of racism for its stance toward Vietnam.
“The CNRP has incited Cambodian people to hate other races of people,” Gen. Banh said. “Vietnam is very important, and we should remain friendly together as we have been for a long time.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20131229 * Cambodia’s GMAC says garment industry unable to continue operations due to illegal strikes:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) on Sunday issued a statement, informing all stakeholders that the industry was unable to continue operations because six trade unions have conducted illegal and violent actions against factory property and forced workers out of work.

“Since Dec. 25, six trade unions have staged illegal and violent actions including destroying factory property, inciting workers to strike, and forcing workers to stop their work as well as their apparent impunity by the Ministry of Labor have left us with no other option but to close,” the statement said.

Garment sector, the country’s largest foreign currency earner, consists of about 500 factories employing some 510,600 workers. The industry earned 5 billion U.S. dollars in the first eleven months of this year.

The six labor unions with the pro-opposition tendency have led tens of thousands of garment workers to go on strikes since Wednesday after the government decided to raise a monthly minimum wage in the garment sector to 95 U.S. dollars from the current 80 U.S. dollars, but those trade unions disagreed with the new wage hike and demanded the government to force the GMAC to double worker’s wage to 160 U.S. dollars from 2014.
read more.
XINHUAnet

$160

 20131230

* CNRP calls a timeout:

After garment workers swelled turnout at the opposition’s ongoing demonstrations yesterday to what some estimated to be double the number seen at any previous rally, party leadership announced a weeklong moratorium on the marches.

Demonstrators will continue to assemble at Freedom Park each day, said Cambodia National Rescue Party MP-elect Mu Sochua, hours after protesters took to the streets yesterday. But instead of marching, protesters will hold “peoples’ conferences” – during which they will be allowed to speak freely onstage – each day from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.

“We can block a road whenever we want,” said Sochua, who added that the weeklong respite in marching will give the ruling Cambodian Peoples’ Party until January 5 to mull over a proposal CNRP members sent them on Saturday for the two parties to begin negotiations. “It has to come to the negotiation table; I don’t think we can avoid each other.”

The number of protesters marching yesterday appeared to exceed last Sunday’s estimated 100,000 people, with demonstrators continuing to demand the government increase the minimum monthly garment wage to $160 next year, rather than $95, which the Labour Ministry set last week.

In response to the growing strike, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) yesterday said that it had no choice but to close factories until the issue was resolved.

In an open letter from GMAC, the factory association warns its 473 members that protesters could pose a danger to workers and factory property.

“[GMAC] would like to inform all stakeholders that our industry is unable to continue operations given the current situation,” the letter reads. “The illegal and violent actions of … six trade unions … as well as their apparent impunity by the Ministry of Labour have left us with no other option but to close.”
read & see more. (video).
PPP new

* Factories Closed Until Safety Guaranteed:

The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) on Sunday said all of the country’s 400-plus garment factories will remain closed until the government and striking trade unions can guarantee the safety of the factories and all employees who want to work.

The decision, outlined in an open letter GMAC released after a meeting of its board Sunday morning, will effectively halt the country’s largest export industry, which generated a critical $5 billion in revenue during the first 11 months of this year.

Dissatisfied with a $15 raise in the monthly minimum wage to $95, which the government approved for all garment workers last week, some unions have stepped up their strikes and protests, demanding a doubling of their wages to $160. One protest on the outskirts of Phnom Penh turned violent on Friday when workers briefly clashed with police, leaving windows smashed and at least three protesters bruised.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Garment industry blames six unions for mass factory shutdown:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has blamed a factory shutdown on “illegal and violent activities” by six trade unions, warning that they will be held fully responsible for losses in wages, jobs and investment.

“Our industry is unable to continue operations given the current situation,” GMAC said in an open letter dated Sunday.

The association said it had tried its best to keep operating in an “extremely difficult business and economic environment” over the years. “We have also had to put up with numerous illegal strikes and militant behavior of some trade unions.”
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Wage talks kick off without employers:

Wage re-negotiations for footwear and garment factory workers commenced on Monday, without factory employers, to end Cambodia’s widespread protests and strikes by factory workers.

Thousands of factory workers were seen gathering outside the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training where government representatives and union leaders are currently holding the talks.

GMAC (Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia) had announced on Sunday that they would not attend Monday’s wage talks.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Wage talks fail again, protests resume:

Wage talks held Monday morning by representatives from the government and trade unions yielded no results leading to the announcement by the six unions to continue their strikes and protests throughout the country to continue their demand for USD 160 per month

However, other trade unions warned to hold counter-protests against the protests led by the six trade unions.
“It gets very risky if wages rise to $160 per month,” Chuon Momthol, leader of the pro-government Cambodian Union Federation (CUF), told reporters after this morning’s wage meeting.
“I dare to say that at least 80 percent of all factories operating in Cambodia will be closed except for the larger ones,” he said.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Thousands protest after failed wage talks:

Thousands of protesting workers have blocked the road in front of the Office of the Council of Ministers after Monday morning’s failed wage talks.

Hundreds of anti-riot police forces and barbed wires were deployed at the site where workers have gathered.
The protest erupted after the wage talks between union leaders and government representatives yielded no results.
Factory employers refused to attend this morning’s wage talks.
read more.
CAMHERALD

201312310 M

“We are protesting for #MW160KH not against police” worker said.
Photo by

* Cambodian Government warns to take strong action against widespread strike provokers:

The government today warned to take tough actions against those who provoke troubles for the operation of the garment manufacturers and the daily work of the workers.

“The factory employers shall resume operation and the workers shall go to work as usual on 2 January,” said the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training in its statement today aft the collapse of minimum wage talks this morning.
The ministry added that “Competent authorities will take tough actions in accordance with the laws against provokers who troubles the factories and workers”.
The ministry also said that the minimum wage (USD 95) shall be based on the decision of the 24 December.
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

 20131231

Take it or leave it offer:

20131231 PPP Garment-work-Strike
A garment factory worker holds a placard during a protest that saw Russian Boulevard blockaded by razor wire and riot police yesterday in Phnom Penh. Garment workers are continuing to strike across the nation, demanding a higher minimum wage. Photo by Vireak Mai.

The government took a hard line against garment-factory strikers after thousands blocked Russian Boulevard in front of the Council of Ministers yesterday, ordering them to accept a $95 minimum wage and return to work on Thursday.

Alleging that six union groups provoked the nationwide strike – which officially began last week when workers were afforded a minimum monthly wage $65 less than they had asked – the Labour Ministry’s notice warned union leaders that the government will pursue legal action if the strike continues.

“The [$95] minimum wage was the decision of the Labour Advisory Committee’s on December 24,” the notice says. “Competent legal authorities will take steadfast legal action against anyone who agitates and disturbs employees and enterprises.”

Ministry officials sent the letter to leadership at the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the Free Trade Union (FTU), the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC), the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions and the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU).

Letters were sent to unions after the Council of Ministers issued a notice to the Labour Ministry, instructing Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng to warn of harsh consequences for union leaders, and to begin legal action against CCU president Rong Chhun.
“If they do not want to stop their strike, we will suspend their license,” reads the letter, which was signed by Council Secretary Ngor Hong Ly. “If they continue striking, we will cancel their licenses; and if they still continue then, we will sue them in court.”
But because his confederation is not registered with the Labour Ministry, Chhun will face immediate legal action, the letter says.

Upon hearing of the order, Chhun told the Post that striking will continue.
“The ministry only ordered this because they do not have the ability to resolve the issue for the workers,” Chhun said. If workers had no problem with the Labour Advisory Committee’s decision last week, they would not have begun the strike in the first place, he added.
read & see more. (video).
PPP new

* Gov’t Unveils Legal Plan to Break Garment Industry Strike:

As mass demonstrations by garment factory workers continued Monday, the government laid out plans to bring an end to the labor unrest within the next three days, including suing union leaders in the courts and mobilizing security forces to take unspecified action.

The Council of Ministers sent a letter to Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng on Monday recommending that if demonstrations don’t stop, the leaders of five nongovernment aligned unions leading the strikes should have their licenses revoked and be brought to court, while the leader of a sixth unlicensed union should be prosecuted in court immediately.

Signed by Council of Ministers’ Secretary of State Ngor Hongly, the letter offers a five-step plan to the Ministry of Labor for how to deal with the nationwide strikes.

If union leaders do not immediately stop their demonstrations, the Labor Ministry should revoke their union licenses. If demonstrations continue, the letter suggests that union leaders should be brought to court.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Some Factories Stay Open Despite GMAC’s Call for Shutdown:

Some garment factories opened their doors Monday morning despite a notice on Sunday from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) that all factories should stay closed until the government and striking unions guaranteed their safety.

In an open letter on Sunday, GMAC accused six unions—all known to not be aligned with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP—of inciting their members to damage factory property and of coercing workers to join their protests for higher wages. GMAC said all 400-plus factories in the association would close, or stay closed, until those unions and the Labor Ministry could assure their safety.

In another statement Monday, GMAC said some factories had stayed open, but only because many workers were urging them to.

“On the morning of December 30, some members of the association who were requested by the workers to return to work and earn salary as usual forcibly opened operations under the request of the workers with hopes to support their living and their families,” GMAC said in the statement.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Hundreds of anti-riot forces deployed as workers continue to block road:

Thousands of protesting footwear and garment factory workers, who demand minimum wage be increased to $160 per month, continue to block the road in front of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training on Tuesday.

The wage protest resumed at the ministry, after wage talks held yesterday between union leaders and government representatives failed.

During the protest, factory employee representatives shouted their demand for the resignation of Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng if he fails to find a solution to their wage crisis.

Hundreds of anti-riot forces were seen being deployed near the ministry where the workers are rallying.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodian garment workers demand higher wages:

20131231 DW

Tens of thousands of people have marched on the streets of Phnom Penh, demanding that long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen resign. Many were garment workers, who walked out last week in a dispute over the minimum wage.

The peaceful march on Sunday, December 29, headed by opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his deputy Kem Sokha, was the largest of its kind in over a decade. Phnom Penh’s streets rang with calls for Hun Sen to quit, something that would have been unthinkable even a year ago.

The movement to unseat Hun Sen, who has been at the helm of one of the world’s most corrupt nations for nearly three decades, is being led by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
read more.
DW

* In Cambodia, pressure mounts on a longtime leader:

Cambodian garment factory workers Then Any and Vong Pov aren’t showing up for work anymore. They make pairs of jeans sold in American stores at prices per pair higher than their $80 (48.40 pounds) monthly income and struggle to make ends meet.

It sounds like an all-too familiar story of labour disputes in one of Asia’s poorest countries, but this time it’s different. Their strike has taken on a new significance and is presenting a rare challenge to one of the world’s longest-serving leaders, Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The pair are just 18 and have only basic education, but are among 350,000 new and powerful allies of a political opposition seeking a re-run of a July election they say was stolen from them by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
Huddled behind barbed wired fences and stared down by riot police outside Hun Sen’s offices are hundreds of factory workers demanding a doubling of wages and threatening to shut down roads and cripple an industry worth $5 billion a year.

“I can’t feed myself,” said Then Any, as workers hurled water bottles towards police lines.
Vong Pov added: “Factories must give us a raise, otherwise, we will strike continuously.”

Instrumental in courting support of disgruntled workers who make clothes and footwear for brands like Adidas, Gap and Nike is Sam Rainsy, whose once-impotent party reinvented itself this year to tap resentment and present Hun Sen with an unprecedented electoral challenge.
read more.
EURONEWS

* Cambodia garment workers: Double minimum wage! :

Garment workers in Cambodia demonstrate in late December, demanding a doubling of the minimum wage from $80 to $160 a month.

Union leaders say more than 300,000 workers in 120 factories across the country went on strike this week in response to the Dec. 24 announcement by the government’s Labor Advisory Council that the minimum wage will be raised to $95 in April 2014 and with annual increases to $160 in 2018. Union federations are demanding an immediate raise to $160.

Workers have staged a record number of strikes this year, most of them centered on demands for higher wages. According to the Garment Manufacturers Association, there were 131 strikes from January through November, up from 121 for all of last year. Adjusted for inflation, wages today are at the same level as 2000.
read more.
MILITANT

* ILO expresses ‘significant concern’ over labor unrest:

The International Labour Organisation expressed Tuesday “significant concern” over Cambodia’s labor unrest and called for an immediate halt to violence and property destruction.

“The economic fallout from the  protests and the industry’s response to them may impact significantly on the industry’s revenues while tarnishing the country’s reputation among international buyers,” the ILO said in a statement.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* ILO urges dialogue to resolve current dispute in garment sector:

The ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR is closely following
developments in the garment industry in Cambodia, particularly in relation to recent industrial unrest.

The current disruption within such an important sector for the Cambodian economy is a cause for significant concern. The economic fallout from the
protests and the industry’s response to them may impact significantly on the industry’s revenues while tarnishing the country’s reputation among international buyers. As Cambodia’s largest industrial sector, accounting for some US$5 billion per year in exports, and some 400,000 jobs, the risks arising out of the current situation are significant for a sector which continues to operate in an intensely competitive international environment.
Resolving the current situation will require support from all stakeholders, workers, trade unions, government and business and its representatives. The ILO urges all of these actors to maximise efforts to find a resolution to the situation. We strongly encourage all parties to intensify these efforts through channels based on the principles of social dialogue and tripartism.
read more in PDF:20131231 ILO CMB resolve dispute in garment sector1.
ILO DECENTWORK

* Industry demands government ‘action’ to protect investment, jobs:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) called Tuesday for government action to protect private investment and jobs from continuing labor unrest.

In a statement, GMAC also appealed to the six labor leaders it named Sunday to refrain from linking private investors to their political dispute with the government.

“The Royal Government and politicians have a role to protect and create an investment climate that is favorable to the investors in the private sector so that more jobs could be created to support the development of the national economy and help reduce poverty in the country,” the statement said.
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

 20140101

20140101 $160
“Solidarity for #MW160KH”

* Extra $5 ‘won’t woo workers’:

20140101 PPP Garment-Strike
Garment workers gather at the Ministry of Labour during a protest yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo by Vireak Mai.

Striking garment unions balked yesterday at the Ministry of Labour’s announcement that it would raise garment workers’ minimum monthly wage to $100, well short of the $160 they demand.

Leaders of the six union groups representing striking workers generally saw the notification of a $5 bump to the ministry’s mandated $95 wage as a sign that the government is amenable to further raising wages, but said the amount is not enough to end the ongoing nationwide strike.

“The government’s decision to increase the minimum wage to $100 is a good sign for the workers,” Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), said yesterday. “But they want more than $100.”
(…)
After the Labour Ministry’s Labour Advisory Committee last week landed on $95 for the garment sector’s 2014 minimum wage, union groups – including the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the Free Trade Union (FTU), the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC), the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions and the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) – walked off the job.

The ministry’s modest wage rise yesterday marked a distinct change of tone from Monday, when it threatened legal action against union leaders if the strike did not end by tomorrow. But the offer did little to persuade strikers to leave the picket line and return to workstations, CCU president Rong Chhun said.
“Increasing the minimum wage to only $100 does not fulfil the demands of workers and unions,” Chhun told the Post.

C.CAWDU vice president Kong Athit said strike demonstrations would halt temporarily today, but resume tomorrow, when workers will protest in front of their respective factories.

In raising the minimum wage offer at all, the Labour Ministry has sent the wrong message to strikers and their unions, said Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia.
“First of all, it came as a total surprise.… It undermines everything we’ve done before and is saying it’s OK to ignore the set rules and regulations [regarding strikes] and you’ll be rewarded,” Loo said. “Our perception is it will not solve the problem. In fact, it will make it worse.”

Along with garment workers, teachers will soon join the strike, said Chhun, who also serves as president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA). At CITA’s annual conference yesterday Chhun announced that teachers would also take their grievances to the streets beginning on January 6.
read more.
PPP new

* Amid Strikes, Minister Raises Minimum Wage to $100:

A week after workers began nationwide strikes over the government’s decision to raise the garment sector minimum wage by $15 to $95, the Ministry of Labor announced Tuesday that it would now increase the monthly wage by an additional $5, to $100.

However, the leaders of six nongovernment aligned unions, who have led thousands of garment factory workers in demonstrations this week demanding a $160 minimum wage, rejected the $100 offer.

In a statement signed by Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng, the government also announced that the wage raise for garment workers must be implemented beginning in February, rather than April, as was initially planned for the $15 increase.

In the past nine months, the government has increased the minimum wage in the garment sector by 64 percent, from $61.
Prak Chanthoeun, director-general of the General Department of Labor Conflict at the Ministry of Labor, said that the additional $5 raise was made in order to appease striking workers, who have held mass demonstrations for the past two days in front of the ministry on Russian Boulevard.
“His Excellency Minister [Ith Sam Heng] made the decision to change the minimum wage because he wants to stop the protests,” Mr. Chanthoeun said.

Morm Nhim, president of the National Independent Federation of Textile Unions in Cambodia, said the offer fell short of $160 per month.
“We see that the government has relaxed its stance toward finding a solution, but we cannot accept this decision because the increase was very small,” Ms. Nhim said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Authority will not use forces to crackdown on protesters: Governor:

Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong said that authorities will not use forces to crack down on protesters.

“Talk is the only choice to find solutions,” said the governor.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Workers out, deadlines loom:

As mass garment strikes enter a second week, fast-approaching buyer deadlines have manufacturers fretting about transport costs and mounting bills.

At least two of Cambodia’s hundreds of garment manufacturers, which ceased operations last week after workers walked off the job demanding a 100 per cent wage increase, will consider paying more than three times their usual transport costs to meet due dates and avoid late penalties.

Nam-Shik Kang, the managing director of Injae Garment Co in Phnom Penh, said manufacturers are expecting to have to fork out thousands of extra dollars to send their shipments by air freight instead of by ship to meet the looming deadlines and avoid penalties. This scenario, however, is still contingent on workers returning to finish off orders for shipment, an unlikely prospect in the short term.
read more.
PPP new

$160 We Need

$160

 20140102

20140101 $160     $160 We Need
“Solidarity for #MW160KH”

* Cambodian troops in riot gear break up strike:

20140102 ALJAZEERATwo witnesses said they saw troops striking a Buddhist monk [Reuters]

Cambodian troops armed with batons and rifles have broken up a protest by textile workers demanding a doubling of wages as part of a nationwide strike by unions allied with the main opposition party.

Witnesses said around 100 soldiers wearing riot gear and carrying assault rifles on Thursday used force to clear hundreds of workers protesting outside their factory about 20km west of the capital, Phnom Penh.

“Soldiers beat up everyone,” said labour rights activist Chhorn Sokha of the Community Legal Education Center. “They had sticks, electric batons, slingshots and stones.”
At least 10 protesters were detained and it was not known yet how many were hurt, she added.

Photographers, including one from Reuters news agency, were hit by batons while covering the protest. Two witnesses said they also saw troops striking a Buddhist monk.
The clashes mark a violent turn after two weeks of relatively peaceful strikes, marches and demonstrations of unprecedented scale in Cambodia. Security forces, which have a reputation for zero-tolerance, have so far exercised restraint.
read more. & to read.
aljazeera reuters

* GMAC to suspend garment production until the situation returns to normalcy:

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) today sent a letter to the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training to inform about suspension of the work of many factories due to fear for security and safety of the workers.

“Due to unrest and dangerous situation, especially the security and safety, and the life of the workers, the factories find it difficult to prevent violence which can happen in every miniute,” said Ken Loo, the GMAC Secretary General in his letter dated on Jan 2, which was sent to Ith Sam Heng, the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Unions to Bring Demonstrations to Factory Gates:

Despite a warning from the government to end demonstrations over the garment sector minimum wage by today, union leaders said Wednesday that workers would continue nationwide demonstrations after taking a one-day break to mark the new year.

Strikes and demonstrations have been ongoing since the government decided last week to raise the minimum wage to $95, well below union demands for a $160 monthly wage. A decision on Tuesday by Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng to raise the minimum wage by an additional $5, to $100, was rejected by the non-government aligned unions.

Morm Nhim, one of six union leaders who have been told they could face legal action if demonstrations do not stop, said that workers would hold demonstrations today at individual factories.

“Most of the workers took the day off for a holiday today, but they will continue to protest tomorrow at their factories to demand the minimum wage [of $160],” she said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Workers block many roads in wage strike:

Thousands of workers have blocked roads in many places to demand wage increase to $160 per month.

The protests took place on Thursday at many factories in Phnom Penh, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang and Kandal provinces.
Anti-riot police forces were seen to crack down on workers at the National Road four.
After the meeting on December 31, 2013, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training decided to increase the wage from $80 to $100, starting from Feb 2014.
However, the labor union leaders still insisted on $160 per month.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* 15 people arrested in wage protest crackdown:

Military Police have arrested 15 protesters including Vorn Pov, President of Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDIEA) on Thursday for allegedly provoking violence.

The police said they were arrested because they threw rocks and damaged property of Korean-owned Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc in Kambol commune, Porsen Chey district, Phnom Penh.
The 15 arrested protesters included five monks who were identified as Meas Vichet, Thach Hasam Ang, Kong Rathanak Saray, Lay Lat and Kim Chanthorn.
Yakjin (Cambodia), located in Kambol commune, Porsenchey district, employs about 3,000 workers to produce shorts, pants, dress, hooked jacket, pajamas top, nightwear and pullover.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Workers quietly trickle back:

20140102 PPP Garment-Strike
Garment workers gather behind barbed wire during a strike on Monday in Phnom Penh. Photo by Vireak Mai.

As garment union groups resume their strike today, thousands of workers plan on returning to work, largely citing financial necessity rather than ideological disagreement with the unions.

The Ministry of Labour on Monday ordered union leaders to cease a nationwide strike that began nine days ago, after the ministry’s Labour Advisory Committee set this year’s minimum monthly wage for workers in the garment sector at $95 – $65 less than unions demanded. The ministry this week tacked another $5 onto the minimum wage, which will now rise to $100 next month.

“If we do not return to work, the factory will not pay us,” said Noun Bunthoeun, a worker representative at Chu Hsing Garments (Cambodia) Co Ltd in Phnom Penh, who added that more than 7,000 workers – about 80 per cent – at the Russey Keo district factory’s three branches will return today. “This does not mean we are abandoning our demand for [a minimum wage of] $160.”

Lacking financial resources is the primary motive for workers at 30 factories in Svay Rieng province, who will come back to work today, said Sok Na, a representative for the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) at the Best Way garment factory in Bavet town.
read more.
PPP new

Cambodian garment workers return to work as factories reopen, but striking unions chase workers off work:

A majority of garment and shoe workers have returned to work as factories reopened on Thursday after a week-long closure due to nationwide strikes over wage; however, protesting trade unions were still leading workers to go on strikes.

The country has about 900 garment and shoe factories with about 600,000 workers, according to Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour. The industry, the kingdom’s largest foreign exchange earner, generated 5 billion US dollars in revenues a year.

“On Thursday morning, about 500 factories have reopened and some 80 percent of the workers have returned to work,” he told Xinhua.

About 400 factories were still closed in fear of security and safety, he said, adding that striking workers were rallying in front of more than 30 factories to demand the government to double the minimum wage in the garment sector to 160 US dollars.
(…)
Sok Na, a representative for the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) at the Best Way garment factory at the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in eastern Svay Rieng Province, said about 90 percent of the workers in the zone returned to work on Thursday.

“Workers now agreed to accept the 100 US dollars minimum wage that the government announced on Tuesday,” he told Xinhua over telephone. “They all need jobs to support ourselves and families.”
read more.
globaltimes

* ILO urges dialogue to resolve current dispute in garment sector:

The ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR is closely following developments in the garment industry in Cambodia, particularly in relation to recent industrial unrest.

The current disruption within such an important sector for the Cambodian economy is a cause for significant concern.
The economic fallout from the protests and the industry’s response to them may impact significantly on the industry’s revenues while tarnishing the country’s reputation among international buyers. As Cambodia’s largest industrial sector, accounting for some US$5 billion per year in exports, and some 400,000 jobs, the risks arising out of the current situation are significant for a sector which continues to operate in an intensely competitive international environment.

Resolving the current situation will require support from all stakeholders, workers, trade unions, government and business and its representatives. The ILO urges all of these actors to maximise efforts to find a resolution to the sit

uation. We strongly encourage all parties to intensify these efforts through channels based on the principles of social dialogue and tripartism.
read more.
BF NEW

Cambodian security forces, striking workers clash, 10 arrested:

A brief clash between security forces and striking workers took place at a Cambodian garment factory on the outskirts of capital Phnom Penh on Thursday, leaving several protesters injured and 10 others arrested.

“Hundreds of protesting workers had tried to destroy the factory’s property, so security forces had to take action against them,” Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, told Xinhua after the 20-minute clash at Yak Jing Garment Factory. “We could not allow them to cause anarchy and chaos.”

He said 10 people, including Von Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, and a few Buddhist monks, were arrested for an inquiry after the incident.
Kheng Tito said those monks were fake because the police found underpants and condoms in their bags.
“They are not workers, but they joined to incite striking garment workers to destroy the factory’s property,” he said. “They will be charged with triggering violence.”
He said he did not know the number of people injured.
According to a Xinhua photojournalist at the scene, several protesters including Buddhist monks were injured on heads and faces due to security forces’ batons.
read more. & read more.
globaltimes XINHUAnet

* Photo Album: Three Days of Terror: State Forces Crack Down on Garment Factory:

20140102 LICADHO
A female garment worker joins a peacefully rally in front of the Ministry of Labor on December 28, 2013 demanding a monthly living wage of $160. Ninety percent of garments workers in Cambodia are women.

On Thursday, January 2, 2014, Special Command Unit 911 violently cracked down on demonstrating garment factory workers near South Korean/U.S.-owned Yak Jin factory in the Pursenchey district of Phnom Penh, using knives, pipes, slingshots, batons and high-powered rifles, including AK-47 machine guns, to intimidate and injure civilians.

The next day, state authorities used live ammunition to clear out the Canadia Industrial Area on Veng Sreng Road of civilians, resulting in four civilian deaths and dozens injured. On Saturday, January 4, authorities then drove out CNRP supporters, including monks, women, and children, from Freedom Park with batons and metal rods. Amidst the chaos, state forces prevented media and rights workers from entering the park.
read-see more.
licadho

$160

 20140103

* Crackdown turns deadly:

Gunfire at Phnom Penh’s Canadia Industrial Park today killed at least four people, a military police official said, after armed forces firing weapons stormed the area – where garment workers and supporters set fires and gutted at least one building.

“We received news from the hospital claiming that four people were killed and another 26 strikers were injured,” the military police official said on condition of anonymity.

Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, which tallied the casualties, also said four had been killed, adding that 29 others were shot in the crackdown and 12 more treated for injuries that have not been confirmed as gunshot wounds.

Rights group Adhoc has said that five people were killed in the crackdown, while Phnom Penh deputy police commissioner Chuon Narin told the Post only three people died and two were seriously injured.

The demonstration at Canadia comes amid an ongoing national strike that began last week when the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee set a new monthly minimum wage of $95 – $65 less than striking unions demanded. The ministry raised the minimum wage another $5 earlier this week, but many workers have remained on strike.
read more.
PPP new

 * 4 workers killed in unrest:

Cambodian military police yesterday opened fire with assault rifles to quell a protest by stone-throwing garment factory workers demanding higher pay in a crackdown a human rights group said killed four people.

Chaos during nationwide strikes erupted for a second day as security forces were deployed to halt a demonstration by thousands of workers, who refused to move and threw bottles, stones and petrol bombs at an industrial zone in Phnom Penh.
The clash represents an escalation of a political crisis in Cambodia, where striking workers and anti-government protesters have come together in a loose movement led by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

Unions representing disgruntled garment workers have joined opposition supporters protesting against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen to demand a re-run of an election in July that the opposition says was rigged.

Military police confronting the protesters fired live ammunition, Reuters journalists said, and bullet casings were later seen scattered across the ground at the scene.
The clashes took place at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh, home to dozens of factories that make clothing for western brands that include Adidas, Puma and H&M Hennes & Mauritz.
Human rights group LICADHO described the incident as “horrific” and lambasted military police, adding that their own investigation and surveys of hospitals had found four people were killed and 21 wounded.
read more.
daily star bd

* Three Killed as Police Open Fire on Protesters:

At least three people were killed Friday morning when police opened fire on several hundred protesters blocking a street at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, police confirmed.

“So far, three are confirmed dead, two injured and two men were arrested by armed forces,” Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Chuon Narin said shortly after the incident at about 10 a.m.

Hundreds of young men and some women armed with sticks, rocks and Molotov cocktails confronted military police armed with AK-47s, riot shields and batons on Friday, following a night of fighting between both sides in the same location.

Barricades continued to burn and rubble was strewn across the road as both sides continued to clash Friday morning and afternoon. A medical clinic was destroyed by the demonstrators—mostly striking garment factory workers—allegedly because the clinic had refused to treat those injured by military police gunfire.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo jak-globe  Return to frontpage CAMHERALD daily star bd reuters

* At least three killed at factory clash:

20140104 PPP riot for web
Police, some armed with automatic weapons, face off with rioting garment workers at the Canadia industrial complex in Phnom Penh on Friday morning. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

At least three protesters have been shot dead by police this morning at the Canadia industrial complex in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, Phnom Penh deputy police chief Chuon Narin has confirmed.

The use of force came as riot police moved in to break up a demonstration by thousands of workers who blocked Veng Sreng street, the site of an ongoing demonstration that began yesterday evening and saw hundreds of riot police deployed to the area after midnight.

Only moments ago, Post reporters on the scene confirmed that the widespread use of automatic weapons fire was still ongoing.

Union leaders and rights activists reported even higher death totals.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said he had received information that four strikers had been shot dead and many more injured.

“The situation now is still tense,” he told the Post. “Why are they cracking down on us as we just demanding our salary?”
read more.
PPP new

* Rights Worker Claims Five Dead in Clashes:

At least five people are dead after police opened fire on hundreds of protesters blocking a street at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, a human rights worker said Friday afternoon.

“I witnessed myself three people killed, but police I spoke to told me that at least five have been killed and 22 are injured,” said Chan Soveth, senior investigator for rights group Adhoc.
Earlier Friday, police confirmed three people had been killed.
“So far, three are confirmed dead, two injured and two men were arrested by armed forces,” Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Chuon Narin said shortly after the incident at about 10 a.m.

Hundreds of young men and some women armed with sticks, rocks and Molotov cocktails confronted military police armed with AK-47s, riot shields and batons on Friday, following a night of fighting between both sides at the same location.

Barricades continued to burn and rubble was strewn across the road as both sides continued to clash Friday morning and afternoon. A medical clinic was destroyed by the demonstrators—mostly striking garment factory workers—allegedly because the clinic had refused to treat those injured by military police gunfire.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

Civilians killed and injured by security forces amid civil unrest in Phnom Penh:

LICADHO has confirmed that at least four civilians were shot dead and 21 injured in the worst state violence against civilians to hit Cambodia in fifteen years.

Amid risks of growing civil unrest in Phnom Penh in the aftermath of the shootings, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) call on security forces and protestors to exercise urgent restraint on both sides to avoid any further bloodshed.

“We condemn this appalling use of extreme lethal force by security forces, said Naly Pilorge, LICADHO Director, “security forces must now put an immediate end to the use of live ammunition against civilians and ensure that all those injured are safely transported to hospital without delay.”

LICADHO monitors witnessed security forces using live ammunition to shoot directly at civilians near the Canadia Industrial Area on Veng Sreng Road at around 10am this morning. The use of live ammunition was prolonged and no efforts appear to have been made to prevent death and serious injury. Reports suggest that security forces were also injured after being hit with stones.
read more.
licadho

* Cambodia garment workers’ strike turns deadly:

At least three people were killed when security forces opened fire on striking Cambodian garment workers in the capital.

At least three Cambodians have been killed when police opened fire on garment workers on strike, as a nationwide wave of protests, backed by the main opposition party, presses on in demand for wages to be doubled. 

An Associated Press photographer and human rights workers said police fired AK-47 rifles on Friday, after several hundred workers blocking a road south of the capital Phnom Penh began burning tires and throwing objects at them. Several wounded workers could be seen after the shots were fired.

Phnom Penh deputy police commissioner Chuon Narin told AFP news agency that three people had been killed and several others wounded in the capital.
read & see more. (video report).
aljazeera

* Cambodian Police Fire on Protesters as Clashes Turn Violent:

Military police officers fired Friday on protesters demanding higher wages for Cambodian garment workers, killing at least three people, officials said, as antigovernment protests against the decades-old rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen entered a volatile new phase.

The garment workers are demanding a doubling of their monthly wages, and they have been at the forefront of growing protests against Mr. Hun Sen’s authoritarian government. On Sunday, tens of thousands of people rallied to demand that Mr. Hun Sen step down.

But Friday’s violence south of Phnom Penh, the capital, marked a sharp escalation in the unrest. Protesters resisted police efforts to break up the demonstrations, and some threw homemade explosives, setting fire to vehicles, and pelted officers with rocks and other projectiles. As the street battles raged, the police fired live ammunition and smoke canisters to try to quell the disturbances.
read more. & read more.
NYT GUARDIAN

* Paratroopers Deployed at Protest: 15 Detained, Injured:

More than a dozen monks, striking garment workers and journalists were beaten Thursday by members of the elite 911 paratrooper unit armed with batons, steel pipes and even slingshots during a bloody clash outside a Phnom Penh factory where a few hundred protesters gathered to demand a hike in their monthly pay.

Human rights groups said at least four monks and 10 other protesters detained at the scene were still held by the military as of Thursday evening. Another monk and one woman were being treated for their injuries at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital.

Thursday’s violence followed after protesters arrived at the gates of the Yakjin factory off National Road 4 hoping to convince workers inside to join their demonstrations for a $160 monthly minimum wage for garment workers.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodian Troops Quash Protest at Garment Factory:

Cambodian soldiers forcefully quelled a demonstration by garment factory workers who were striking for better pay Thursday, detaining Buddhist monks and labor leaders.

Soldiers from a military special command unit carrying metal pipes, knives, AK-47 rifles, slingshots and batons clashed with workers at a factory in an outlying area of Phnom Penh, local human rights group LICADHO said. Its statement said 10 people were taken into military custody and that monks and workers were beaten.

National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said those arrested had led hundreds of protesting workers in trying to destroy factory property by throwing stones and iron objects.

Workers at most of the country’s more than 500 garment factories are on strike, demanding an increase in the minimum wage to US$160 a month, double the current rate. The government has offered $100 a month.
read more.
IRRAWADDY

Military Special Command Unit Deployed to Crackdown on Striking Workers:

The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) are outraged by today’s violent crackdown on striking workers by a military special command unit and the consequent violent arrest of union leaders, garment workers and monks.

The use of Special Command Unit 911 to suppress demonstrations near Yak Jin factory in Phnom Penh’s Pursenchey district is unprecedented and signals a disturbing new tactic by authorities to quash what have been largely peaceful protests.

Tension escalated this morning as striking garment workers from factories close to Yak Jin industrial unit gathered to urge other workers to join the general strike for a livable minimum wage. Soldiers from the neighboring 911 military base were quickly mobilized to quash the protest, leading to two violent clashes. The soldiers were seen brandishing metal pipes, knives, AK47 rifles, slingshots and batons.
read more.
licadho

* Arrested protesters sent to Prey Sar prison:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided today to send human rights activist Vorn Pov, and other nine protesters who were arrested in yesterday clash to prison.

Vorn Pov, president of Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDIEA), and the nine arrested protesters were sent to Prey Sar prison, awaiting for further investigation after the court procedure under tight security as hundreds of protesters including monks rallied outside the court to ask for their release.

They were arrested yesterday in a police crackdown at  at the Korean-owned Yakjin (Cambodia) after the striking workers allegedly threw rocks and damaged property in the factory.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Strike violence erupts:

20140103 PPP Garment-Strike-man-beaten
A man is dragged along a dirt road outside of Yakjin garment factory after being beaten by authorities yesterday in Por Sen Chey district. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

Authorities yesterday injured dozens of union leaders, garment workers and monks, arresting at least 15 of them, in a series of crackdowns against demonstrators protesting the industry’s minimum wage.

Garment workers and their supporters who were gathered yesterday in front of the Yakjin factory, off National Road 4 in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, said tensions between demonstrators and soldiers from a local military base guarding the factory boiled over at 9am when soldiers began unprovoked attacks on them.

The demonstration occurred amid a national garment worker strike that began last week when the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee set this year’s minimum monthly wage for workers in the garment sector at $95 – $65 less than unions demanded. The ministry this week tacked another $5 onto the minimum wage, which will now rise to $100 next month.

As the groups stood face-to-face on the dirt road just off the main road, soldiers began throwing water bottles at demonstrators, who picked up the bottles and threw them back at soldiers, said Chean Kongkea, a 20-year-old employee at Korean-owned Yakjin.
read & see more. (video report).
PPP new

* Cambodian police opens fire on striking garment workers:

Cambodian anti-riot police on Friday morning opened fire on striking garment workers, killing at least two protesters and injuring more than 10, according to a right group activist.

Chan Saveth, head of legal aid for rights group Adhoc, said the violence broke out when about 2,000 striking workers blocked a road in front of the Canadia Industrial Park to demand higher wage.
Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, could not be immediately reached for confirmation.
According to Xinhua photojournalists at the scene, police opened fire on strikers and several workers were dead, while some others were injured.
read more. & read more.
globaltimes theNATIONnew

* Cambodian police open fire on protesters, several wounded:

Cambodian police opened fire on protesting garment workers on the outskirts of the capital Phnom Penh on Friday, leaving several people wounded, according to an AFP photographer.

The clash comes against a backdrop of growing public protests against the kingdom’s long-ruling Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Police fired warning shots in the air and then fired at the protesters, leaving at least three people injured, the photographer saw.
It is the latest in a series of violent clashes between security forces and textile workers demanding higher wages.
The incident happened after thousands of workers blocked the road in front of factories and later faced off with security personnel in the Veng Sreng area of Phnom Penh.
to read.
theNATIONnew

* Human Rights activists and workers ask to release arrested protesters:

Human rights activists and workers gathered at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to demand the release of 10 protesters who were arrested yesterday.

Vorn Pov, Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDIEA) and nine other protesters were arrested for allegedly provoking violence in a strike at a Korean-owned Yakjin (Cambodia) on Thursday.
After their arrests, human rights groups and political party condemned the crackdown by authorities.
Brigadier General Kheng Tito, military police spokesman, could not make any comment over the charges against the arrested protesters, saying that “he charges are dependent on the court”.
Kem Sokha, Deputy President of Cambodia National Rescue Party, was also found outside the Phnom Penh Court. He called for the release of the arrested protesters.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodia’s GMAC says factory closures continue due to ongoing strikes:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said Thursday most of its 559 factories would continue to be closed due to security concerns after six pro-opposition trade unions led striking workers to destroy factories’ properties and forced workers to join their protests.

“Because of the current unrest and danger in the garment sector, the GMAC has requested the Labor Ministry to suspend the productions in these factories indefinitely,”GMAC’s Secretary General Ken Loo wrote in a request to Labor Minister Ith Samheng.
read more.
globaltimes

* Cambodia’s garment workers stand firm as sector reels:

One of Chenda’s biggest hopes is that she might one day make enough money to bring her daughter back to the Capital.

When the Cambodian government and unions began discussing a rise in the minimum wage for garment workers last month, she believed her six-year-old, currently living with grandparents in a neighbouring province, might be able to return home.
“I really want to bring my daughter to town, but we just can’t afford to spend money for someone to look after her,” said the 34-year-old.
When the Ministry of Labour announced they would be bumping up the $80 minimum monthly wage by only $15, Chenda, like many of her colleagues, was deeply disappointed.
read more.
Return to frontpage

Cambodia says outlawed strikes adversely affect investment climate:

Cambodian Ministry of Labor said Friday that outlawed strikes have frightened employers and worsened investment climate in the country.

“The ministry calls for the (opposition) Cambodia National Rescue Party and six trade unions to immediately stop inciting workers to commit violence, road blockade, and destruction of factories’ properties,” said a Labor Ministry’s statement, urging them to cooperate with the authorities in order to find out perpetrators.
read more.
globaltimes

* Cambodia’s garments to ship piece by piece:

Cambodia’s garment manufacturers might sell fabrics from unfinished clothing orders worth millions of dollars to factories offshore in a last-ditch attempt to meet looming buyer deadlines.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) issued a letter to the Cambodian government yesterday requesting it to “facilitate” exports of unfinished orders to other countries amid continued garment-worker strike action.

The letter calls on the Ministry of Economy and Finance to clarify and advise factory owners on “re-exporting” procedures.
This means that stockpiles of whole fabric and cut fabric pieces, as well as accessories, semi-finished and unpacked finished products would be shipped out to a buyer’s other manufacturing operations in the region.
read more.
PPP new

$160

 20140104

* Military police storm Freedom Park:

Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders are holed up at their party headquarters in the capital’s Meanchey district after authorities forcefully evicted opposition demonstrators from Freedom Park today.

Amid rumours that the government intends to arrest key opposition and union figures, CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua said the party’s lawmakers-elect had gathered in solidarity in its office – close to the Ministry of Interior.
“I don’t think it [the arrest warrants] is a rumour,” she said. “I think it is a reality. “It’s a matter of time, [but] I have no idea [what the government is accusing us of]. How would I? We’ve done nothing wrong.”
When called for comment, Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Chiv Keng, pled ignorant of any warrants.

Negotiations with the government, meanwhile – originally planned for yesterday, but nixed by the opposition following a violent crackdown against garment workers and monks – appear to be off the table altogether now, Sochua added.
“[Interior Minister] Sar Kheng said he no longer wants to communicate with Mr. Rainsy,” she said.

Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said he had moved to an undisclosed area on the outskirts of the capital.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said of the crackdown in Freedom Park. “I don’t know what their plan is. But this is their own fear.”
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodia clears protest park after deadly clashes:

Cambodian security guards and city workers, watched over by riot police, dismantled a camp occupied by anti-government demonstrators on Saturday, a day after a bloody crackdown on garment factory workers allied with the protest movement.

Friday’s clashes, during which police shot dead four people, have stoked a political crisis in which striking workers and supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) are challenging a government they say cheated its way to power and is depriving them of a fair wage.

Despite the crackdown, CNRP leader Sam Rainsy vowed that a mass march and rally planned for Sunday would go ahead. Rainsy also condemned the violence and demanded a thorough investigation.
Hundreds of CNRP supporters have been camped since December 15 in tents around a stage in Freedom Park, the only place in Phnom Penh where protests are allowed.

Unions representing garment workers want better pay and support CNRP’s demands for a re-run of an election in July it says was rigged to allow long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen to remain in power.
Friday’s clashes took place at Canadia Industrial Park, also in Phnom Penh, which is home to dozens of factories that make clothing for Western brands such as Adidas, Puma and H&M Hennes & Mauritz.
read more.
reuters

Peaceful Protesters Expelled from Freedom Park as Military Mobilization Escalates:

This morning state forces put a violent end to CNRP supporters’ long-standing occupation of Freedom Park, also known as Democracy Plaza, an area in central Phnom Penh specifically designated for protest.

This action follows two days of violence, which included the shooting yesterday at the Canadia industrial zone which left at least four civilians dead and dozens wounded.

The violence began at around 11.00 this morning when hundreds of police and military police blocked roads surrounding Freedom Park and rapidly and without warning moved in to clear the park of protesters. As they approached, the residing protesters, many of whom were monks or women with their children fled in fear leaving behind their belongings. The forces were accompanied by hundreds of thuggish civilians wearing red arm bands who used metre-long steel poles to beat and intimidate the peaceful protesters. Once the park was clear of people, they and the uniformed forces tore down the stage as well as temporary structures that had been built to provide shelter to protesters, destroyed a Buddhist shrine and wrecked audio equipment belonging to the CNRP.

LICADHO staff, as well as journalists and workers from other NGOS, who were attempting to document the events and provide help to protesters, were threatened by the thugs and prevented from entering the park while the destruction took place.
read more.
licadho

* Cambodia strike faces deadly crackdown:

Garment workers making clothes for export have been killed by security forces as they protested for higher wages.

As hundreds of heavily-armed military police began moving in to quell protesting garment workers Friday morning, Neang Davin looked on nervously.

“Last night I didn’t join anything, I was just driving my motorbike and stopped to watch. The police arrived, they didn’t ask anything, they just went in and began beating us,” said Davin, leaning on a bamboo stick for support. “Even though we ran into the market, we weren’t confronting them; they just went in and started beating us. They hit me on the back with a baton.”

Clashes between police and protesters that began after midnight Friday on the outskirts of Phnom Penh escalated Saturday morning leaving at least four shot dead and 23 seriously injured.

While the government lay the blame at the feet of protesters who pushed back security forces with rocks, Molotov cocktails and homemade weapons, none of those injured were police, admitted Military Police Spokesman Kheng Tito.

Instead, it was striking workers and bystanders who bore the brunt of an unusually harsh retaliation by police who appear to have grown weary of peacefully breaking up the protests that have roiled Phnom Penh for the past week.

Garment worker woes
On December 24, workers began striking en masse after the government announced it would be raising the minimum wage from $80 a month to $95 – an offer that fell far short of unions call for $160 a month. By the time the Ministry of Labour caved a week later and agreed to an extra $5 a month boost, the genie was out of the bottle. Years of chronic underpayment and poor working conditions had pushed at least half of the nation’s estimated 600,000 workers into the streets.
read more.
aljazeera

* Police Kill 5 During Clash With Demonstrators:

Five people were shot dead and more than 20 injured, most suffering gunshot wounds, when military police officers opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles during clashes with protesters armed with stones, sticks and crude Molotov cocktails on Veng Sreng Street in the heart of the garment factory zone in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on Friday.

Local rights group Licadho said the killings represent “the worst State violence against civilians” in 15 years, and is the single worst incident ever to hit the country’s key garment industry, which employs some 600,000 people in hundreds of mostly foreign-owned firms.

The deaths and injuries cap more than a week of mostly peaceful protests as tens of thousands of garment factory workers have gone on strike to press their demands for a wage of $160 per month.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia Must Investigate Protest Killings by Security Forces:

Cambodian authorities must hold security forces to account for today’s killing of at least four people at a protest by garment workers that turned violent in the capital Phnom Penh, Amnesty International said.

“Today’s tragic violence must be investigated and those responsible for deaths and injuries held to account,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Cambodia researcher. “The Cambodian government has to rein in its security forces. Today’s events sadly echo other recent incidents – on at least four occasions in the past few months, security forces have used unnecessary or excessive force, including live ammunition, against protesters and bystanders.

“As with so many human rights violations in Cambodia, the lack of accountability for these incidents is a reminder of the pervasive culture of impunity in the country. There must be root and branch change to ensure the perpetrators of violations are brought to book.”
read more.
amnesty-international-logo

* Court Charges Protesters as Supporters, Police Scuffle Outside:

About 300 military police on Friday cleared demonstrators outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court who were demanding the release of 10 protest leaders detained since a bloody clash with paratroopers on Thursday.

The protesters, who numbered at most 250 and included monks, had closed off Monireth Boulevard with speaker-mounted tuk-tuks at both the front of the court and at the road’s intersection with Sihanouk Boulevard.
As court officials inside began proceedings to charge the detained protesters, including striking garment factory workers, rights activists and union officials, those outside took turns to harangue the court over a loudspeaker.

About 150 military police soon emerged from the adjacent Olympic Stadium and formed a police line next to the tuk-tuk blockade, at times arguing with monks who approached them but otherwise remaining calm.
At 9 a.m., CNRP vice president Kem Sokha arrived and told the crowd that the 10 detained protesters were not criminals but victims of military brutality.

Five monks, striking garment workers, union leaders and journalists were beaten on Thursday as soldiers from the elite 911 paratrooper unit broke up a protest of workers striking for a higher minimum wage in Pur Senchey district.
“If you arrest the union leaders and garment workers, you must also arrest the police and military police who beat up the workers,” Mr. Sokha shouted to the crowd.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Security Guards, Police Forcibly Clear Freedom Park:

20140104 CD

At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, security guards, men in plainclothes and municipal police, all wielding steel bars and metal pipes, forcibly cleared hundreds of demonstrators from Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, where the opposition CNRP has been protesting against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen for three straight weeks.

Demonstrators, including monks and women, were indiscriminately beaten as they ran away.
The move by the CPP government came one day after its security forces shot dead at least five, and injured more than 20, protesting garment workers, armed with stones, sticks and crude Molotov cocktails, during clashes in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the park had to be cleared to restore public order in the capital city, which has been host to daily protests marches and mass demonstrations in recent weeks.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Police disperse opposition rally after deadly clashes:

Anti-riot police forces, armed with shields and batons, dispersed opposition’s supporters from their protest base at the Freedom Park on Saturday.

The measure was taken after Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong sent a letter to opposition leader Sam Rainsy to inform him that the rally at the Freedom Park can not be allowed any more because of risky situation.
The Phnom Penh authority banned the opposition’s rally after there were deadly clashes yesterday, killing at least four protesters.
At the site, the police removed the tents and evicted the supporters of Cambodia National Rescue Party from the Freedom Park.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Phnom Penh Municipality calls on factory workers to return to work:

The Phnom Penh municipality, on 3 January, appealed to factory workers to return to work as usual as many workers left Phnom Penh due to fear after violent clash between the military police and angry protesters, killing four people.

In its statement, the Phnom Penh Municipality said talks between the Government, Garment Manufacturers in Cambodia (GMAC) and the Worker Unions will resume to talks on the minimum wage demand.
In its statement, the municipality stated that the clashes stemmed from the incitement by politicians and not factory workers. The municipality also rationalized its last resort crack-down due to high risk of the violent incident.
Yesterday’s clash was the third and most serious clashes since the last July election.
After the clash, many workers were seen to take the buses back home for fear of security and safety.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* King requested to convene CPP, CNRP leaders for a summit to end crisis after deadly protest crackdown:

Independent analysts requested the Cambodian King to invite the leaders of Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to a negotiation table to end the political tension following yesterday’s violent crackdown, which killed at least four protesters.

The three Cambodian independent analysts are Dr. Lao Monghai, Dr. Sok Touch and Dr. Kem Ley, who wrote a joint letter yesterday to propose His Majesty the King to invite the leaders of the CPP and CNRP to a negotiation table at a convenient time under the King’s presidency.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Bloody crackdown: UN condemns live fire, asks to bring violence instigators to justice:

The United Nations on Friday condemned the use of live fire against protesters and also urge authorities to bring instigators of violence to justice.

The UN made the statement following a heavy-handed crackdown on protesters yesterday, killing at least four protesters and injuring 30 others.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* EU calls for dispute parties to return to negotiation table after deadly crackdown:

The European Unions expressed its concern and called for peaceful talks to end violence, which killed at least four people in a heavy-handed crackdown yesterday.

“The Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia is very concerned by the violent demonstrations occurring in the vicinity of Phnom Penh over two days and regrets the disproportionate and excessive use of force by the security personnel, which resulted in the loss of lives,”
read more.
CAMHERALD

* US urges ‘restraint’ in Cambodia after violence:

The United States on Friday appealed for peaceful dialogue and denounced violence in Cambodia after police opened fire on protesting garment workers, killing three people.

“The United States deeply regrets the recent loss of life in Cambodia during violent clashes between protesters and government security forces,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodia bans opposition’s protests, citing security concerns:

Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong on Saturday banned the country’s main opposition party from holding any protests in the capital, citing security concerns.

“To ensure social security and public order, the Phnom Penh Municipality decides not to allow the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to continue holding demonstrations at the Freedom Park and marching through streets in the city from Jan. 4 onwards until the security situation has returned to normal,” Pa Socheatvong said in a letter to CNRP’s President Sam Rainsy.

He said in recent days, inciting activities have led to violence that claimed lives and caused severe destruction to public and private properties.
“These violent activities have seriously affected social security, safety and public order,” he said.
Security forces have been sent to the Freedom Park on Saturday morning to disperse opposition’s protesters. As a result, all protesters were kicked out of the park.
read more. & read more.
globaltimes FE bd

* Khmer Kill Khmer…:

2013 Elections Aftermath
Striking workers who pulled up barricades on Veng Sreng road defying armed forces before being brutally dispersed, resulting in at least 3 dead, one badly injured and 3 confirmed arrests.

At least 3 people were shot dead and several were severely injured by hundreds of bullets fired by armed forces during a brutal crackdown in the morning of January 3rd on barricades set up by thousands of striking workers on Veng Sren road, in the industrial area of Phnom Penh.

Several others were arrested and subsequently tasered, beaten up or beaten unconscious.
see more. (photo report).
JohnVink

$160

 20140105

* Cambodian Authorities! End Brutal Repression Immediately! :

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance strongly condemns the use of extreme force, violence and arrest to quell garment workers strike in Cambodia on January 2nd and 3rd, 2014.  The garment workers’ strike is a legitimate expression of the desperation of garment workers who are crushed under poverty level wages.

The violent crackdown on striking workers by a military special command unit and the consequent violent arrest of union leaders, garment workers and supporters, causing 3 deaths is shocking and absolutely acceptable.  Desperate poverty has to be ended by the payment of living wages and cannot be ended through violence.

We, the international community, call upon the Cambodian authorities to release unconditionally those who are being arrested and detained for exercising their rights to participate in peaceful assembly. We call upon brands and retailers such as H&M, Adidas, GAP, and Walmart to act swiftly to support the implementation of USD 160 minimum wage in Cambodia.

The violent crackdown on the peaceful strike of garment workers and unions in Cambodia is a shameful example of how garment workers are brutalized by the forces of poverty, global garment brands’ greed and state-sponsored repression. This is against the treasured international human right of Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.  Cambodia as the signatory to the ILO’s Convention on Freedom of Association is bound by the ILO Convention. The attack on the peaceful strikers and the ongoing violence and imprisonment are absolutely unacceptable by the international community.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance supports the demand for the implementation of USD 160 as minimum wage in Cambodia.  We support USD 160 as the wage that can provide minimal dignity to Cambodian workers, and not the poverty wage of USD 100.

We call upon key brands and retailers such as H&M, Adidas, GAP, and Walmart to act swiftly to support the implementation of USD 160 minimum wage in Cambodia. They must show their commitment to bear the share in their supply chains so that garment workers in Cambodia are able to receive a minimally dignified wage.
On Behalf of Asia Floor Wage Alliance
ASIAFLOORWAGE

* After Park Cleared, CNRP Leaders Called to Court:

Saturday, municipal security guards and men in plainclothes, wielding steel bars, metal pipes, batons, sticks and axes, forcibly cleared hundreds of demonstrators from Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, where the opposition CNRP has been protesting against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen for three straight weeks.

Demonstrators, including monks and women, were indiscriminately beaten as they ran away.
The move by the CPP government came one day after its security forces shot dead at least five, and injured more than 20, protesting garment workers, who were armed with stones, sticks and crude Molotov cocktails, during clashes in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Military police storm Freedom Park:

Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders are holed up at their party headquarters in the capital’s Meanchey district after authorities forcefully evicted opposition demonstrators from Freedom Park today.

Amid rumours that the government intends to arrest key opposition and union figures, CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua said the party’s lawmakers-elect had gathered in solidarity in its office – close to the Ministry of Interior.
“I don’t think it [the arrest warrants] is a rumour,” she said. “I think it is a reality. “It’s a matter of time, [but] I have no idea [what the government is accusing us of]. How would I? We’ve done nothing wrong.”
When called for comment, Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Chiv Keng, pled ignorant of any warrants.

Negotiations with the government, meanwhile – originally planned for yesterday, but nixed by the opposition following a violent crackdown against garment workers and monks – appear to be off the table altogether now, Sochua added.
“[Interior Minister] Sar Kheng said he no longer wants to communicate with Mr. Rainsy,” she said.

Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said he had moved to an undisclosed area on the outskirts of the capital.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said of the crackdown in Freedom Park. “I don’t know what their plan is. But this is their own fear.”
read more.
PPP new

* Democracy unraveling:

see video report.
PPP new

* Cambodia clears protest park after deadly clashes:

Cambodian security guards and city workers, watched over by riot police, dismantled a camp occupied by anti-government demonstrators on Saturday, a day after a bloody crackdown on garment factory workers allied with the protest movement.

Friday’s clashes, during which police shot dead four people, have stoked a political crisis in which striking workers and supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) are challenging a government they say cheated its way to power and is depriving them of a fair wage.

Despite the crackdown, CNRP leader Sam Rainsy vowed that a mass march and rally planned for Sunday would go ahead. Rainsy also condemned the violence and demanded a thorough investigation.
Hundreds of CNRP supporters have been camped since December 15 in tents around a stage in Freedom Park, the only place in Phnom Penh where protests are allowed.

Unions representing garment workers want better pay and support CNRP’s demands for a re-run of an election in July it says was rigged to allow long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen to remain in power.
Friday’s clashes took place at Canadia Industrial Park, also in Phnom Penh, which is home to dozens of factories that make clothing for Western brands such as Adidas, Puma and H&M Hennes & Mauritz.
read more.
reuters

Peaceful Protesters Expelled from Freedom Park as Military Mobilization Escalates:

This morning state forces put a violent end to CNRP supporters’ long-standing occupation of Freedom Park, also known as Democracy Plaza, an area in central Phnom Penh specifically designated for protest.

This action follows two days of violence, which included the shooting yesterday at the Canadia industrial zone which left at least four civilians dead and dozens wounded.

The violence began at around 11.00 this morning when hundreds of police and military police blocked roads surrounding Freedom Park and rapidly and without warning moved in to clear the park of protesters. As they approached, the residing protesters, many of whom were monks or women with their children fled in fear leaving behind their belongings. The forces were accompanied by hundreds of thuggish civilians wearing red arm bands who used metre-long steel poles to beat and intimidate the peaceful protesters. Once the park was clear of people, they and the uniformed forces tore down the stage as well as temporary structures that had been built to provide shelter to protesters, destroyed a Buddhist shrine and wrecked audio equipment belonging to the CNRP.

LICADHO staff, as well as journalists and workers from other NGOS, who were attempting to document the events and provide help to protesters, were threatened by the thugs and prevented from entering the park while the destruction took place.
read more.
licadho

* Military Police Are Killing the Cambodians Who Make Your Clothes:

Four people were killed and 21 more injured in Cambodia this morning, when police opened fire with AK-47s into a group of protesters. The deaths come after months of tension and escalating violence between the authorities and garment workers, who are demanding higher wages.

Things came to a head on Thursday evening, when a police battalion in Phnom Penh were beaten back from an apartment block that had been seized by protesters during a day of demonstrations. By this morning, the military cops were engaged in a standoff on Veng Sreng Boulevard—one of the main roads out of the Cambodian capital—and the makeup of their opponents was a curious one. The factory workers, 90 percent of whom are women, had at some point been replaced by groups of metal pole- and machete-wielding young men, gathered together behind rows of Molotov cocktails.

At some point, the military police chose to respond to a barrage of rocks, bricks, and flaming bottles with gunfire. A nearby clinic that had refused to help the injured was ransacked. One of the injured was a pregnant woman who had been trying to escape the chaos.
read more.
VICE

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20140106

* Five Killed During Protest Confirmed as Garment Workers:

The five people killed by AK-47 gunfire from military police at a protest along Pur Senchey district’s Veng Sreng Street on Friday were all striking garment factory workers, a union official confirmed Sunday.

Military police officers opened fire on the factory-lined street on Friday morning during clashes with striking workers armed with sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails, killing five men and injuring at least 30 people.

An investigating team from the independent Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU) has since identified the five confirmed killed by military police as garment factory workers, CCAWDU legal officer Oum Visal said.

Mr. Visal added that 35 other garment factory workers, as well as two students, had also been identified by CCAWDU in its rounds of three Phnom Penh hospitals as having been injured on Veng Sreng Street.

The hospitals surveyed by CCAWDU, which Mr. Visal said will release the full findings of its investigation today, were the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, Calmette Hospital and Preah Kossamak Hospital.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* After Clashes, Garment Workers Flee Veng Sreng Street:

The few remaining residents of Phnom Penh’s garment factory-lined Veng Sreng Street, where government forces armed with assault rifles shot dead five striking workers on Friday, said Sunday that most workers had since fled in fear for their lives.

Battlefield soldiers from the military’s Brigade 70 unit in trucks and machine-gun-mounted jeeps patrolled the stretch of road over the weekend, as overflowing green minivans ferried workers to the safety of their family homes in the provinces.

Khieu Khorn, 56, who owns a three-story residential building that military police attempted to storm on Friday, said that the 43 garment workers who rented rooms from him had all returned to their family homes since the end of the violence.

“I don’t think many are going to come back to even collect their salaries,” Mr. Khorn said. “Most believe that if they come back, the government may shoot at them again.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Many garment factories resume work:

Many garment factories along Veng Sreng street resume their operations on Monday, three days after deadly clashes.

The Veng Sreng Street was re-opened for traffic and many workers were seen going to work even though the some shops and restaurants remain closed.

Military Police and vehicles were seen being deployed in front of Canadia Industrial Park where the violence took place last Friday, leaving five people dead, some 37 people injured, and 13 arrested.

The Cambodian government announced Veng Sreng Street as dangerous location after the deadly clashes.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Rong Chhun summoned to appear at court for allegedly provoking social unrest:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court summoned Rong Chhun, President of Cambodian Confederation of Unions, to appear at court for being questioned on January 14 after deadly clashes on Veng Sreng Street last week.

Rong Chhun, also President of Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, was accused of inciting crimes and social unrest.
He was one of the six union leaders who led nation-wide strikes to increase the minimum wage from USD 80 to USD160 before the clashes. All of them are now going into hiding.
The court also summoned opposition party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha to appear at court on January 14 for being questioned on the clashes.
The clash toke place last Friday and left five people dead, and 37 others injured.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Exodus follows violent clash:

Garment workers have begun leaving the area surrounding embattled Veng Sreng street en masse, following the outbreak of clashes early on Friday morning.

An estimated 80 per cent of the more than 10,000 workers who live and are employed in the Meanchey district suburb have vacated their homes, said Som Aun, president of the government’s Cambodian Council of National Unions (CCNU).

“As far as I know, the workers at other factories did not return to their hometowns, but the workers living on Veng Sreng street and near Canadia park left their rental homes out of fear,” he said.
read more.
PPP new

* Picking up the pieces:

The sight of traffic moving easily and people milling about along Veng Sreng Boulevard in the capital’s Meanchey district yesterday was a far cry from two days earlier, when the street was occupied by makeshift roadblocks, bonfires and military personnel carrying automatic rifles.

While visible evidence of the deadly crackdown on a garment worker strike near the Canadia Industrial Park on Friday – which claimed the lives of at least four – and attacks on pro-opposition demonstrators in Freedom Park on Saturday had largely disappeared, the unprecedented violence remained all too real for those affected.

“I was very scared when authorities cracked down and opened fire,” So Sambath, 20, said as he lay in the intensive care unit of Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital with a bullet wound in his stomach. “Maybe I won’t return to work if protests continue, because I’m afraid they will open fire again.”

Demonstrations at the industrial park over the minimum wage began peacefully on Thursday, witnesses said, though Post reporters on site said that hours before police arrived, the road had been partially blocked and more than a half-dozen bonfires lit.

After an initial encounter that saw law enforcement officials beat demonstrators and go as far as chase some into their homes, police withdrew, only to return in greater numbers, and with deadly force, hours later.

Rights group Licadho yesterday confirmed that, according to their tally, at least four men were killed, three of whom were garment workers.

Pheng Kosal, a 24-year-old garment worker, Yean Rithy, a 24-year-old garment worker and father of one, and Kim Polin, 29, all died from gunshot wounds at the Khmer-Soviet hospital on Friday, according to Licadho. Korng Ravy, a 25-year-old factory worker and father of two, died at Calmette Hospital after being shot on Friday.
read more.
PPP new

* Canadia park, a ghost town:

On most Sundays, the wide boulevard separating two rows of some 40 mustard-coloured factories in the Canadia Industrial Park is teeming with people.

Garment workers who live on the premises stroll or bicycle along the road, stopping to eat at the same restaurants, patronizing the same stores. For businesses lucky enough to be in Canadia’s microcosm of an economy, the 13,000 workers in the park have translated into a steady stream of revenue. But all that changed on Friday, when garment workers—many of whom held jobs at one of Canadia’s factories—clashed with military police and riots cops outside the park on Veng Sreng road.

The bloody altercation was part of an ongoing labour strike that started almost two weeks ago, when workers walked off the job after the government refused to raise minimum wages to $160.
read more.
PPP new

* GMAC Defends Use of Force Against Striking Workers:

A senior member of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) on Sunday endorsed the use of deadly force by military police against striking garment workers, which left five dead and more than 20 with gunshot wounds.

Military police opened fire indiscriminately when they were pelted with rocks by hundreds of garment factory protesters on Veng Sreng Street in the city’s Pur Senchey district, where thousands of workers are on strike for a raise in the minimum wage.

The protesters had set up barricades on the road and had made crude, mostly ineffective Molotov cocktails.
While one local rights group called the killings the worst case of state violence against civilians in 15 years, GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo said Sunday that the authorities had responded appropriately.

“GMAC condemns the use of violence, period,” he said. “However, I think that the police had to respond to break up the rioters, and the rioters were not responding to verbal warnings.”
Mr. Loo said the military police were in the right to open fire on the protesters.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Violent response to strike for increased minimum wage:

A nationwide strike in Cambodia to increase the minimum wage from USD 80 to USD 160 started on 24 December and ended nearly two weeks later in violence and killings.

Following a government decision to increase the existing minimum wage of USD 80 with USD 15, strikes erupted around Cambodia. Workers had demanded that the minimum wage should be raised to USD 160.

On the 2 and 3 January the demonstrations took a violent turn when protesters and rights activists were arrested. As Royal Police and striking workers clashed, four people were shot dead and 37 more were seriously injured.
Arrest warrants have been issued for the trade union leaders supporting the strikes, including leaders of IndustriALL Global Union affiliates.Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL’s general secretary, strongly condemns the violence and persecution of trade union representatives:
Killing and injuring workers is wholly unacceptable and must end immediately! IndustriALL fully stands behind the Cambodian workers’ demands for a living wage of USD 160. The 15 dollar increase proposed by the government is shameful.
to read.
Home

* Global Union Bodies Demand Justice for Cambodian Workers:

Workers had been demonstrating peacefully demanding an increase in the minimum wage.

At least four workers were killed and 39 injured during a crackdown by security forces on Friday. Trade unionists and labour rights supporters have been targeted for attack as workers demanded a minimum wage above the government offer of US$100 per month, which is woefully insufficient to meet the rising cost of living. Over 23 have been arrested, their whereabouts unknown, and summonses have been issued for several union leaders.

“Cambodia’s government must return to the negotiating table and agree to a fair wage for garment workers and cease the dictatorial repression of legitimate strike action by workers. It should immediately release all those detained, and ensure that those responsible for the killings and violence are brought to justice,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL, said “The right to strike for a higher minimum wage is solidly protected by the international right to freedom of association, enshrined in ILO Convention 87 – which Cambodia ratified in 1999. The threats, arrests, and the killing of trade unionists for the exercise of that right is an extremely grave violation and must be condemned. Any encouragement of that violence by garment manufacturers must end. ”
read more. & read more. & ITUC letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen
ITUC CSI IGB   Home

* Mr Hun Sen: Stop the Brutal Suppression of Workers and Trade Unions in Cambodia:

Support Cambodian working people who have been struggling for their rights.

The Cambodian government has been violently suppressing the legitimate strike organised and participated by the majority of garment, textile and footwear workers demanding higher minimum wage.

Numerous media reports confirmed that the use of excessive force of the police and armed forces brutally killed at least four workers and severely injured 23 workers and supporters between 2nd and 3rd January 2014.
We have been informed that many arrests were made by authorities as well and 10 workers are under police and army custody up to date.
It is very unfortunate that it was the government not the workers who initiated the violent clash between security forces and strikers.
read more and please sign.
ATNC

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* For families of 23 arrested: silence:

20140107 PPP 3-Arrests-Garment-Workers
Seven men detained by military police lay on the ground with their hands bound at the scene of deadly clashes on Veng Sreng Boulevard on Friday. RFA

When Prak Sovanny asked prosecutors where she could find her husband, detained since his arrest at a protest on Thursday, they told her to ask police. When she inquired with police, they insisted that prosecutors, not police, had that information.

Sovanny’s husband, Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), is one of 23 people arrested last week when police cracked down on demonstrations supporting a nationwide garment worker strike. But days after their arrest, which came amid a police shooting that killed at least four, the families of those imprisoned remain unable to contact their loved ones.

“We see the Cambodian government, at the moment, is going away from rule of law,” said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, noting that defendants have a legal right to contact their families. “There is no rule of law; they just claim rule of law.”

The 23 defendants are believed to be at Correctional Centre 3 in Kampong Cham, according to Tola – who said CC3’s chief confirmed this to an associate Tola declined to name – and rights group Licadho, which called the facility “one of the harshest prisons in Cambodia”.
read more.
PPP new

* Minister ‘too busy’ to sit down with unions:

The Ministry of Labour yesterday postponed a planned Wednesday sit-down with the leaders of five union groups participating in a nationwide garment worker strike, saying Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng is too busy.

Signed by the ministry’s Secretary of State Oum Mean, the brief notice was sent to Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) president Ath Thorn, Free Trade Union (FTU) president Chea Mony, Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) president Pav Sina, National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC) president Morm Nhim and Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions president Yang Sophorn.
read more.
PPP new

* Prominent Union Leader rejects talks on minimum wage with government:

Mr. Chea Mony, President of Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia (FTUWC) announced today that he would not attend the meeting on January 8 as convened by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training , arguing that the meeting would be useless as one of the five Union leaders was put under pressure through legal lawsuit, which is a threat against the Unions’ legal rights.

The statement signed by Chea Mony today said that both Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training should allow workers to go off from work for a while without deducting their wage so as to avoid eventual violence which may affect the workers’ lives and property as a result of authority’s suppression.

On 3 January 2014, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training invited the leaders of the 5 Unions, including Mr. Chea Mony, Mr. Pav Sina, Mrs. Mam Nhem and Mrs. Yang Sophorn who have been staging protest for a minimum wage of USD 160 to join a meeting on 8 January 2014.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Video: Workers & Political Activists under Attack in Cambodia:

Year 2014 has opened to a sustained campaign of violence and arrests in Cambodia. This video looks back at events which occurred on January 2,3, and 4, 2014.
See Video report.
licadho

* Flouting Law, Government Holds Protest Prisoners Incognito:

Police and prison officials are refusing to disclose the whereabouts of more than 20 people, including union leaders and political activists, who were arrested during protests late last week, family members of the detained and rights workers said Monday.

Twenty-three protesters were charged with the destruction of property under aggravating circumstances after protests by striking garment factory workers were suppressed by military police on Thursday and Friday.

Moeun Tola, head of labor affairs at the Community Legal Education Center, said a team of defense lawyers from his organization had also been repeatedly denied access to or information about the prisoners, including a 17-year-old who was arrested at Veng Sreng.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Police Block, Search Garment Workers’ Vans in Svay Rieng:

Local police in Svay Rieng province Sunday and Monday set up checkpoints along National Road 1 to stop and search vans carrying garment workers back to Phnom Penh from their home villages.

Has Naly, deputy police chief in Svay Teap district, said police had set up the checkpoints to search workers’ cars for weapons because they were worried the workers would stage another protest over the minimum wage.
“We didn’t stop them from traveling, but we checked their vans to see if they had any weapons,” he said.
“We were worried they would bring them to a demonstration. We wanted to know company names, their positions and the identities of the workers,” Mr. Naly said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Global labour movement shows solidarity with Cambodia:

At least four Cambodian workers were killed on Friday, and more than 39 others were wounded, when police in Phnom Penh opened fire on a crowd of protesters demanding higher wages.

In addition, at least 23 people have been arrested; their whereabouts remain unknown.
Human rights organisations describe the incident as the worst state violence against civilians in more than a decade.
According to witnesses on the ground, AK-47 rifles were used by armed forces to quell the demonstration.
In an interview with the French news agency AFP, a military police spokesman, Kheng Tito, justified the crackdown, saying nine policemen had been injured by violent protesters. He also said if the strikes were to continue, the situation would turn into “anarchy”.
read more.
EQUALtimes

* ICC complaint to lay shootings at PM’s feet:

The Cambodia National Rescue Party is preparing to file a complaint to the International Criminal Court against Prime Minister Hun Sen over the deadly violence against striking factory workers last week.

CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha told reporters yesterday that the party was working with the families of those killed when riot police on Friday opened fire on workers gathered at Veng Streng Boulevard in the capital’s Meanchey district.
“We are preparing the procedure, and we have enough international lawyers to do this work,” Kem Sokha said, without elaborating.
He added he believed enough evidence had been amassed to sue Hun Sen at the court.
read more.
PPP new

* Wage fight ‘to wound’ key sector:

Garment factories lost out on some $200 million in profits and another $70 million that should have been invested in production since workers walked out on December 25 in a strike for higher wages, according to Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia.

Speaking at a presentation yesterday in Phnom Penh Hotel, Ieng said that in addition to missed profits, orders will go down 20 to 30 per cent this year, factories will have to rush through shipments to meet deadlines by using expensive air-freight options, and Cambodia will be thought of as high-risk by global brands, which will reduce prices.

“Now the factories are trying to recover from lost production time to deliver, and I am 80 per cent sure that no factory is making money because all will be shipped by air,” said Ieng, who appeared emotional over the crisis. “Over six months or four months, all the factories will lose money.
read more.
PPP new

* Garment Strike Cost Industry $200 Million, GMAC Says:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said Monday that the recent weeks of labor unrest have cost the industry $200 million and international buyers would likely cut clothing orders by up to 30 percent this year, while the killing of five strike protesters was dismissed as “collateral damage.”

Capping off a week of strikes and protests by garment workers demanding a doubling of the sector’s monthly minimum wage to $160, military police shot dead five and wounded more than 20 outside a Phnom Penh factory on Friday.

Condemned by human rights groups, the U.N. and foreign governments, GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo on Sunday said the military police’s lethal response to the stone-throwers was “absolutely” appropriate.

At a press conference at the Phnom Penh Hotel on Monday to justify its staunch rejection of the striking workers wage demand, and to call for an end to the strike, GMAC chairman Van Sou Ieng roundly condoned the military police killings, and blamed the deaths on the strikers themselves.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* GMAC worries about departures of investors after labor unrest:

The President of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) warned yesterday that the recent weeks of labor unrest may adversely affect the garment industry in the future.

“If the threat continues, the investors may not dare to invest in Cambodia,” said Van Sou Ieng, GMAC president told a conference yesterday at the Phnom Penh Hotel.
He also said that the garment industry lost USD 200 millions due to recent weeks of unrest, which killed at least five peoples and several days of closure of most of the factories in the Kingdom.
He added wage negotiation has to be held but must be in accordance with law and at a place free of violence/

“Employers agreed to provide USD 95 per month for workers in the last wage talk. However, the government then asked us to increase to USD 100 per month because it wants to help the workers,” he said.
He warned that most of factory employers could not afford if the minimum wage is to increase up to USD 160 per month.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Apparel brands express ‘deep concern’ over Cambodia violence in open letter:

A clutch of popular global clothing and accessories brand names have sent an open letter to Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen and his Cabinet expressing “deep concern” over the violence of last week, when troops fired at rioting garment industry workers killing five and injuring more than 30.

The letter signed by H&M, Gap Inc, Inditex, Puma SE, Adidas Group, Columbia Sportswear Company and Levis Strauss & Co, was also addressed to Cambodian manufacturers and trade unions.

“We strongly oppose all forms of violence,” the letter, a copy of which was emailed to The Straits Times, said.
read more.
ST

* Stop Seeking Compensation for Damages from Cambodian Workers:

Korean companies in Cambodia appear to be preparing to launch a lawsuit against the leader of Cambodia’s opposition party and the labor unions seeking compensation for damages.They claim they have suffered losses reaching $10 million due to disruptions in production and damage to facilities caused by the union’s strike and demonstrations. It is a lawsuit by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), but reports claim that Korean companies are leading such an initiative.
It is inhumane and anti-labor to respond to a poor worker’s request to increase the minimum wage to $160 with a major lawsuit. If it is true that Korean companies are leading such an effort, it is truly embarrassing. It is only right that they stop such an attempt immediately.
read more.
KYUNGHYANGs

China hopes Cambodian parties express demands “legally” after bloody clash:

China called on all parties in Cambodia to express their demands through “legal means” following days of protests in the country.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comment at a daily news briefing when asked about clashes between Cambodian police and protesters, which left at least four dead on Friday.
“We hope they can solve problems through friendly consultations and maintain social order and peace,” Hua said.
Friday’s garment worker protest on the outskirts of Phnom Penh turned violent. The clash between the protesters and police left four strikers dead, 26 injured and 11 arrested.
read more.
globaltimes

* Military Police Deny Their Bullets Killed Five Protesters:

A spokesman for the military police said Monday that there would be no investigation into the killing of five stone-throwing protesters and the wounding of more than 20 on Friday in Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street, and that the military police had behaved “ethically” when they opened fire.

Brigadier General Kheng Tito said military police—who were witnessed firing AK-47 assault rifles and killing and wounding protesters on official orders—were “very ethical.”
Brig. Gen. Tito also claimed that it was unclear who had shot the five protesters.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Government Finds Deniability in District Security Force:

When the government violently cleared Freedom Park of protesters on Saturday morning, sending in more than a hundred men armed with metal bars and wooden batons, it didn’t use the police.

When a group of five anti-eviction activists were dragged off the street Monday morning and bundled into a van and driven to the Phnom Penh municipal prison, it wasn’t the police either.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia defends deadly crackdown on protests:

Striking workers go back to work as government official says opposition’s actions made police to crack down on protest.

Cambodia’s government has defended its violent crackdown on anti-government protesters and striking garment workers as the ruling party marks what they call the victory day over the Khmer Rouge regime.

“The Cambodian People’s Party will do whatever to defend the constitution and the royal government of Cambodia that was formed through an election,” Heng Samrin, Chairman of the Cambodian National Assembly, said during a ceremony on Tuesday.
read & see more. (video report).
aljazeera

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* Cambodian garment workers dying for a pay rise:

Cambodian workers demanding higher wages to toil in factories making Gap jeans and Nike trainers have found themselves on the frontline of a bloody crackdown on dissent by strongman premier Hun Sen.

Months of peaceful protests by opposition supporters demanding new elections have posed little threat to Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-serving leaders.

But when striking factory workers began to join forces with the opposition, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) responded swiftly with at least four workers shot dead and dozens wounded by security forces.

The tough tactics reflect the potent political force represented by the hundreds of thousands of Cambodian workers who stitch the clothes and footwear worn by many in the West.

“If the two streams of protest had been allowed to merge — political opponents and striking workers — they would have presented a threat of enormous magnitude to the Hun Sen regime,” said Cambodia expert Carl Thayer.
read more. & to read.
CAMHERALD

* Unions Tell Garment Workers to Suspend Strike:

Unions behind last week’s garment factory strikes said their members had largely gone back to work this week, although they have not ruled out resuming protests for a higher minimum wage later this month.

Tens of thousands of workers went on strike starting on December 24 to demand a doubling of the industry’s monthly minimum wage to $160, forcing several of the country’s 500-plus factories to shut down and many more to scale back production.

The strike turned deadly when military police opened fire directly into crowds of stone and petrol bomb-throwing demonstrators outside a Phnom Penh factory on Friday, killing at least five and wounding more than 40.

But as of Monday, some 80 percent of garment workers in Phnom Penh and more than half the workers in the provinces were back at their factories, said Chheng Lang, vice president of the National Independent Federation of Textile Unions in Cambodia (NIFTUC), one of the six unions behind the strikes.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Rights Groups Condemn Killing of Protesters:

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), along with local rights groups Licadho and Adhoc, denounced the Friday shooting of protesting garment workers by police in a joint statement released in Paris on Monday.

“The killing of demonstrators by government authorities is totally unacceptable. The government must use dialogue, not guns and batons, to address workers’ demands and to deal with political dissent,” FIDH president Karim Lahidhi said in the statement.

On Friday morning, military police opened fire on a group of garment factory workers protesting for a higher minimum wage. The protesters had blocked a street in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district and were throwing stones at military police who responded with AK-47 live rounds, killing five people and injuring dozens.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* UN rights office alarmed by Cambodia crackdown:

The United Nations’ human rights office Tuesday said it was alarmed by Cambodia’s crackdown on protests against strongman premier Hun Sen, and urged the authorities to show restraint.

“We are following the situation in Cambodia with serious concern and are deeply alarmed by the disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials in responding to demonstrations,” said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodia garment worker strike unravels:

National strike demanding higher wages has ended after crackdown, but union activists predict continued tension.

An eerie silence came over the Canadia Industrial Park area on the outskirts of Phnom Penh on Friday afternoon, minutes after soldiers fired automatic rifles into crowds of demonstrators supporting a nationwide garment worker strike.

Gunfire killed at least four people and injured dozens more, in an unprecedented crackdown on demonstrators ten days after a coalition of labour unions called for a national strike against Cambodia’s garment factories. The violence followed a Ministry of Labour announcement that the industry’s minimum monthly wage would be raised to $95 in 2014, less than the $160 that unions demanded.
The ministry later modified the decision, upping garment workers’ 2014 minimum wage to $100 per month.

“It’s beyond my belief they would react like that,” Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said of the shootings.
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aljazeera

* South Korea pulled strings as Cambodia’s military cracked down on protesters:

Conspiracy theorists frequently accuse rich countries of “puppeteering” in the developing world, quietly pushing governments to deploy thugs to protect wealthy — and sometime abusive-corporations. 

There is truth to this, but it’s rare to uncover on-the-ground examples of how this string-pulling works.
Cambodia’s current conflict over garment wages provides one such example, GlobalPost has learned.

In recent months, the impoverished Southeast Asian country has been enmeshed in a series of strikes involving garment workers who stitch clothes for Western brands. Workers are demanding a doubling of the minimum wage, saying they can’t live on their current $80 monthly income.
Late last week the government responded with a violent crackdown. Elite units wielding Chinese-made weapons, batons, and steel pipes chased protesters through the streets. Five were killed and dozens were injured.

Although the garments are destined for the US, Europe and Japan, South Korean companies reap much of the financial gain, playing the role of middleman between laborers and Western brands. Korean-owned factories employ legions of low-wage workers, churning out clothing for fashion-hungry markets. In 2012, Seoul was the largest investor in the country with $287 million in projects, beating out its behemoth of a neighbor, China.
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globalpost

* South Korean garment industry urged Cambodia to act on striking workers:

South Korean embassy officials and factory workers had direct contact with the security forces behind the violent dispersal of striking garment factory workers near the Cambodian capital last week.

A possible motivation for the sudden confrontations outside Phnom Penh emerged via a South Korean embassy statement released, and now deleted, on Facebook.
A two-week garment workers’ strike was violently broken by police and military firing into protesting crowds on Friday, leading to the deaths of up to five people.

In a statement released Monday on the Facebook page of the South Korean Embassy in Cambodia, officials detailed pleas to both the ministries in Hun Sen’s ruling government and the key opposition party led by Sam Rainsy.
In a translation obtained by the ABC from its original Korean, the Facebook post, since removed from the site, said embassy staff had actively engaged Cambodian police and military to protect South Korean assets.
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AUSTRnetworkNEWS

* Cambodian Authorities must Reveal Whereabouts of Detainees Immediately:

Family members, lawyers and independent medical professionals have been denied information about the location of detention of 23 people arrested during recent brutal crackdowns in Phnom Penh.

Those arrested include at least three human rights defenders, Vorn Pao, Theng Soveoun and Chan Putisak.

The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) are calling on authorities to disclose information about their whereabouts and grant immediate access to them.

Since the 23 appeared in court to be charged on Friday and Saturday there has been no news about their location or medical condition Some of those arrested were savagely beaten during their arrest and are in urgent need of medical care. There is one juvenile amongst those held.
Most are young garment factory workers, many under the age of thirty.

“We are extremely concerned for the health and personal safety of all those held,” said Naly Pilorge, LICADHO Director. “Immediate and regular access to families, doctors and lawyers is a key safeguard against torture and ill- treatment. Right now these men have no access to the outside world and in the current climate anything could happen. Authorities need to put an immediate end to this secrecy.”
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CLEC

* Police still mum on protesters:

The whereabouts of 23 people arrested last week during a crackdown on demonstrations in Por Sen Chey district remained unknown yesterday, with prison officials and police refusing to divulge the information to family members and rights groups.

After contacting 18 prisons, the staff at all of which said the prisoners were not in their facilities, rights group Licadho has narrowed down their current location to three prisons, Naly Pilorge, the NGO’s director, said.
Citing “credible information”, Pilorge said the defendants are likely in Correctional Centre 1 in Phnom Penh, Correctional Centre 3 in Kampong Cham or Correctional Centre 4 in Pursat.

Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labour program, said on Monday that the director of CC3 confirmed to an associate that the 23 prisoners were there.
But when asked about the prisoners’ whereabouts yesterday, CC3 chief Chea Vanna would only refer a Post reporter to Kouy Bunson, director of the General Department of Prisons.
Bunson could not be reached.
to read.
PPP new

* Arrested Protesters’ Whereabouts Still Unknown:

Prison and judicial officials on Tuesday continued to conceal the whereabouts of 23 people who were arrested during protests by striking garment workers in Phnom Penh last week, rights workers and a defense lawyer said.

Ten people, including union leaders and political activists, were arrested by soldiers on Thursday. A further 13 were arrested by military police on Friday during the suppression of a protest that saw five striking workers shot dead.

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator with rights group Licadho, said the family and lawyers of those detained were still being refused their requests for any information.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Flash News: Confirmation of 23 detained arrestees held in CC3 Prison:

At 10 am, Sem Sakola, a Phnom Penh investigation judge, called LICADHO lawyers to confirm that six clients arrested and charged during the violent crackdown of garment protesters in the Canadia Industrial Area on Veng Sreng Road last week are being held in CC3 prison.

The six clients include Vorn Pao, president of union Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Theng Savoeun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer’s Community (CCFC), and Chan Puthisak, a land activist from Boeung Kak Lake.

As well, the CC3 prison director has permitted a LICADHO doctor to treat all 23 individuals this afternoon. CC3 prison is an isolated prison located two hours from Kampong Cham town northeast of the capital, Phnom Penh. As of December 2013, CC3 prison held 1,496 male prisoners.
to read.
licadho

* Garment manufacturers planning to sue unions:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia is helping its members sue several unions for damages after a walkout over demands to raise the minimum wage to $160.

Ken Loo, GMAC’s secretary general, said that more than 150 members are jumping on board to sue: “And the numbers keep on going up.”
The association claims that strikes over wages, which started in late December and are winding down now, cost factories more than $200 million in profits. The six unions at the centre of the dispute are all targets of the legal action. Many did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment.

Hundreds of factories were shuttered during the strike, which reached its nadir when military police killed at least four workers on Friday during a protest outside the Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh.
Loo added that some suits had already been filed, but did not specify amounts of damages sought. GMAC’s plan to sue was discussed on the official page of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions Monday in a post that also claimed South Korean garment manufacturers are backing the suit.

Arrests were made outside a South Korean-owned garment factory on Thursday, and the administrator of Canadia Industrial Park said yesterday that two South Korean companies work in the zone.
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PPP new

* ILO doubts bleak garment outlook:

The International Labour Organization (ILO) yesterday cast doubt on the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia’s (GMAC) bleak outlook for the rest of 2014, after the association claimed that deadly violence sparked by wage disputes would result in clothing brands reducing future orders.

Speaking from Bangkok, Maurizio Bussi with the ILO’s office for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, said that the industry will grow at a sustained pace, and that any financial impact will only be short term, despite GMAC’s numbers.

Cautioning that comparisons between countries are difficult to make, Bussi cited the world’s second-largest garment producing nation, Bangladesh, as a place that had continued to prosper despite major tensions.
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PPP new

* Millions in damages sought:

In the aftermath of violent clashes between authorities and demonstrators last week, business owners in the area have lodged 20 complaints with Por Sen Chey district police, collectively claiming millions of dollars in damages.

In their complaints, owners of factories, shops and other businesses along Veng Sreng Boulevard and near Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, where clashes occurred, blame protesters for the destruction and demand those responsible compensate them for their losses, Por Sen Chey district police chief Yim Sarann said.
“We are working on this and checking on the complaints filed now, before sending them to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for further review,” Sarann said.
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PPP new

* Cambodia’s garment industry faces Bangladesh-like risks:

Cambodia’s garment industry is following in Bangladesh’s footsteps in the way social and political problems are starting to erode a low-cost labor advantage.

o far, the killing of at least four garment wage protesters on Friday by military police has not grabbed international headlines as dramatically as the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. But the potential exists for a larger global outcry as security forces appear to be growing less inhibited about using deadly force. At a minimum, the industry faces ongoing disruptions as political and labor protests grow more intertwined.

Our correspondent in Phnom Penh recently spoke with an International Labor Organization economist, who argued that the factory collapse in Bangladesh was a game-changer for many people in the industry in that social and safety issues became almost as important as things like making deadlines, quality, and wages. “I think Cambodia is just starting to wake up to that issue” of Western labels worried about reputational risk, our correspondent says.

“But after these shootings happened, it’s not like buyers stepped forward and said, ‘That’s it, we’re cancelling three orders from this factory.’” Even when companies do cancel, our correspondent notes, they usually make the decision quietly.
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MONITORFRONTIERmarkets   FE bd

$160

20140109

* Silence broken at last:

20140109 PPP Arrested-strikers_Military-Police
Men detained by military police lie on the ground with their hands bound at the scene of deadly clashes on Veng Sreng Boulevard on Friday. RFA

Notification that her son is being detained at Correctional Centre 3 in Kampong Cham came as a relief to Touch Sart yesterday, after spending nearly a week wondering whether he was even alive.

Since her son, Theng Saroeun, was arrested along with 22 others at demonstrations last Thursday and Friday, police, court and prison officials have refused to confirm the identities or whereabouts of those detained. After six days of silence, prison officials yesterday finally allowed family members, lawyers and a doctor to visit them.

“My son is badly hurt, he was beaten seriously and could not eat,” Sart said. “He received seven stitches.”

The fact that they have spent nearly a week of detention without access to their families or lawyers – a violation of defendants’ rights in Cambodia – and held in an isolated prison far from their Phnom Penh homes indicates the government’s strong desire to keep them cut off from supporters, Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said.

The defendants – one of them a 17-year-old – were arrested on Thursday and Friday amid protests in Por Sen Chey district. Ten were arrested during a rally in front of Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc on Thursday, after, witnesses said, military officials guarding the factory initiated clashes with demonstrators.
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PPP new

* Twenty-Three Arrested Protesters Held in Kompong Cham Prison:

After refusing for days to disclose the location of 23 protesters arrested last week and then charged in court, prison officials revealed Wednesday that the group is being held in a notorious jail in Kompong Cham province.

Ten people were arrested on Thursday and a further 13 were arrested on Friday during protests by striking workers that saw at least five people shot dead by military police.

Keo Sovanna, chief of Kom­pong Cham’s Correctional Center 3 (CC3), confirmed speculation earlier this week by rights groups Adhoc and Licadho that the 23 protesters—who have not yet been convicted of any crime—are being held at his maximum security jail.

“We’ve detained them in the same building [here], since we don’t have the rooms available to detain them separately,” he said.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Arrested protesters in good health: Police:

General Director in charge of Prison under the Ministry of Interior said that the 23 arrested protesters, including Mr. Vorn Pov, who is a prominent human rights activist, are in good health except slight wounds caused by the clashes.

Kuy Bunsen, General Director, added nonetheless, the prison officers have been taking care of their wounds.
The above comment was made after families of the detainees had claimed that Mr. Vorn Pov and other detainees were in serious conditions.
Mr. Bunsen said that families can meet with the detainees through direct contact with the prison chief for permission and it is not necessary to contact through his office.

He also said that the 23 detainees, including Mr. Vorn Pov are being held up at resurrection center III, called M3 prison in Trapiang Tlong, Kompong Cham province.
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CAMHERALD

* As Strikers Return to Work, Factories Sue Garment Unions:

As garment workers continued to return to their factories Wednesday after several days of strikes that turned deadly last week, some of their employers have wasted no time in suing the unions behind the strikes, demanding compensation.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court chief clerk Prak Savouth said five factories had already lodged complaints against the unions, but would not say which factories filed the suits or which unions had been targeted for legal action.

“We received complaints from five factories,” he said, before referring further questions to Khieu Sambo, a lawyer for the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).
Mr. Sambo confirmed that factory owners had lodged complaints, but declined to provide details.

On Tuesday, GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo said lawsuits might target all six of the nongovernment-aligned unions it has already publicly accused of inciting violence among the striking garment workers. Those protests peaked when military police shot into crowds of stone-throwing protesters outside a Phnom Penh factory on Friday, killing five and wounding more than 40. GMAC chairman Van Sou Ieng said he was not familiar with the details of the lawsuits, but estimated that 50 or more factories were availing of his association’s lawyers to sue the six unions, and that more could join the suits.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Strikers fired in Svay Rieng:

20140109 PPP Manhattan-Zone_Garment-Workers_Svay-Rieng_strike_protest
Garment workers strike in front of Kingmaker’s factory in Svay Rieng province, demanding higher minimum wages in December. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Factories in Svay Rieng province’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone have fired or suspended more than 200 workers – and are pursuing legal action against some – for participating in a strike last month that saw some 30,000 walk off the job.

An accountant at Kingmaker (Cambodia) Footwear Co, Ltd – which supplies to California-based Skechers USA Inc – confirmed they fired 200 workers on December 27, while heads of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) and Cambodian Alliance Trade Union (CATU) told the Post yesterday that 50 members of their unions were dismissed last week.

“The accusation is not right, because we did nothing wrong,” said Chorn Thieng, a factory worker in the economic zone who said he was suspended and is earning half his regular pay until a lawsuit his factory filed against him reaches court. “We just demanded [a $160 minimum monthly wage], and we still demand it.”

Workers at factories in the Manhattan and Tay Seng Special Economic Zone in Svay Rieng province started striking for a minimum wage hike – from the current government mandate of $75 plus a $5 health bonus – a week before a larger collection of unions called for an industry-wide strike on December 24.
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PPP new

* For Workers, Wage Rise Is Shift From Surviving to Thriving:

Sous Sary, a 31-year-old garment worker, works two hours of overtime every day in order to earn enough to live even the most spartan of lifestyles on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

For three simple meals per day, she spends $2.50. On some days, she allows herself to indulge in a few small pieces of meat, spending $5. She pays another $20 in rent and $15 for water and electricity each month, all for a 2.5-by-2.5-meter wooden room in Pur Senchey district with no bathroom or running water. Ms. Sary and her husband, a part-time laborer, cannot afford a mattress or sheets for the wooden bed they share.

Ms. Sary, who sews trousers at the Bright Sky factory in Dangkao district, says her basic monthly expenses alone total $130, while the minimum monthly wage in the garment sector is just $80, meaning that working overtime, while technically optional, is in reality obligatory for her.

Along with hundreds of thousands of other garment workers, Ms. Saray went on strike this week seeking a raise in the minimum wage from $80 to $160 per month. Factory owners have insisted that workers’ demands cannot be met, calling the latter figure so high that it would put them out of business. The government has tried to compromise by offering $100.

But for Ms. Sary, the difference between the government’s offer and the workers’ demand is not just mathematical: It is the difference between barely surviving and being able to put some money aside to send her only child, an 8-year-old boy, to college. Her dream is for the boy to grow up and become a doctor, but she knows this goal is out of reach for the son of a garment worker, so she clings to the hope that he will one day be a nurse.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Fashion Backward: Cambodian Government Silences Garment Workers:

“Cambodian garment workers have two handcuffs and one weapon [against them]. One handcuff is a short-term contract [10 hours a day, six days a week]. Even if they get sick, if they get pregnant they feel they have to get an abortion so they don’t lose their jobs.

“The second handcuff is the low wage,” Tola Moeun, head of the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC), which advocates for workers rights, told IPS from the organisation’s headquarters on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. “The weapon used against them is violence, both mental and physical.”
About 90 percent of garment workers are young women, mostly in their teens and twenties.

His words, which came just days before mass protests broke out in the Cambodian capital, proved prophetic as garment workers took to the streets Dec. 24 until their demonstrations were brutally quashed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s private military the first weekend in January, resulting in five fatalities and over 30 serious injuries.

In the days leading up to the protest, the Labour Ministry had approved an increase in the minimum wage for garment workers, from 80 to 95 dollars a month. But trade unions and workers protested, saying it was not enough to live on, and demanded a monthly minimum wage of 160 dollars.

Chrek Sophea, interim coordinator of the Workers’ Information Centre (WIC), which helps factory workers organise, told IPS workers cannot survive on the government’s proposed wage, and that it is in violation of Cambodia’s labour laws.
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IPS

* Conflicting Figures on Number of Slain at Garment Protest:

The opposition CNRP has placed the number of striking garment factory workers shot dead by military police at Friday’s protest in Phnom Penh at six, party President Sam Rainsy said Wednesday.

The number is one higher than the five deaths reported by staff at three hospitals in Phnom Penh to journalists on Tuesday and two victims more than the figure collected by local rights group Licadho.
Mr. Rainsy released a list of six names on his Facebook page Wednesday, adding Kheng Kosol, 23, to a list of those killed by military police that the CNRP had compiled by Sunday.
The names of some of the deceased or their spellings as well as their ages also differed.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Clothes Made in Cambodia Are Tainted in Blood:

By Mu Sochua

I write in response to the unethical remarks made by the leadership of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) reported in your article published on Tuesday “Garment Strike Cost Industry $200 Million, GMAC Says.”

For days, local and foreign newspapers showed video clips and images on social media of the armed military police used to crack down on the striking workers. From blood-stained clothes to injured workers begging for mercy, the obvious and undeniable fact is the way the crackdown was conducted. With AK-47 assault rifles in hands, the aim was not just to disperse a crowd but it was clearly aiming to kill.

Five workers were killed and close to 30 others were wounded on January 3 during the heavy confrontation at the Canadia Industrial Zone. The leadership of GMAC called it “collateral damage” and described the use of lethal weapons by the military police as “absolutely” appropriate.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* GMAC Doesn’t Support Violence to End Industrial Disputes:

By Ken Loo

I refer to the article “GMAC Defends Use of Force Against Striking Workers” published on Monday, which did not fairly reflect the views and position of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

It starts out by claiming that GMAC “endorsed the use of deadly force by military police against striking workers.” This contradicts a later paragraph in which I was quoted as saying “GMAC condemns the use of violence, period. However, I think that the police had to respond to break up the rioters, and the rioters were not responding to verbal warnings.”

I feel that the quote was taken out of context and that it has misrepresented our position. When asked if I thought that the military police had responded appropriately by firing live rounds, I had replied that firstly, we should be clear to distinguish striking workers and this group of rioters. In this case, the rioters had engaged in violent activities including breaking down of factory gates and doors, intimidating and forcing workers who were working to leave work. They had also destroyed a clinic and were burning up roadside stalls. We also witnessed numerous attempts to try and break into garment factories.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia’s Garment Industry Dilemma:

Cambodia is in the very early days of industrialisation. Assembly work, such as stitching garments together are typical examples of the type of work at this stage, as surplus labour moves out of the countryside and into towns and cities looking for cash-based incomes.

The work is comparatively uncomplicated, appropriate to the skill levels of these new industrial workers but also involves long hours on low wages.

This is because wages are generally set internationally rather than locally, and from an international perspective, wages in Cambodia are comparatively high for this industry. In Bangladesh, the minimum wage has just been raised to $US68 a month from $38 a month, whereas it was already $US80 here in Cambodia, and is about to rise to $US100 – effectively putting contract garment manufacturers here who largely compete on price at a disadvantage.

The cynical ploy by the opposition NRP therefore, to encourage these workers to risk it all just so these politician’s can get their hands on the levers of power, is especially lamentable under circumstances where itinerant garment manufacturers could easily decide that Cambodia was becoming too difficult and relocate elsewhere.
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PENHPAL

* UN rights body seeks probe into shootings:

The United Nations yesterday urged the government to launch an investigation into the recent deadly violence by security forces against striking garment workers, ahead of next week’s visit by the special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, Surya Subedi.

“We are following the situation in Cambodia with serious concern and are deeply alarmed by the disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials in responding to demonstrations,” Robert Colville of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

“We urge the Cambodian authorities to launch a prompt and thorough investigation and to ensure full accountability of members of security forces found to have used disproportionate and excessive force,” he added.
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PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

* SL protester, 15, released after months:

A juvenile suspect held on charges of violence and criminal damage for his part in the SL Garment workers strike last November has been released on bail.

The 15-year-old suspect was released under court supervision yesterday, after an appeal was launched against his pre-trial detention.
A lawyer for the prosecution, who wished to remain anonymous, said the youth suffered from mental illness.
“He has a mental problem, and he is a juvenile,” she said. “We wait to discuss with the attorney whether we should keep filing against him or not.”
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PPP new

* Workers in Russey Keo return to work after weeks of strike:

Thousands of workers from 58 factories in Russey Keo district returned to work as usual today after recent weeks of strike to demand wage increase.

Almost 100 percent of the workers in the area go to work and the situation returned to normalcy.
Last month, workers started the strikes throughout the country to demand that wage be raised to USD160 per month, up from USD 80 per month.
The government then increased to USD 100 per month starting from February 2014. Six labor union leaders are still not satisfied with the increase.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Gap to H&M Urge Talks to End Cambodian Workers’ Pay Clash:

Apparel makers including Gap Inc. (GPS), Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB) and Inditex SA (ITX) called on Cambodia’s government, its garment industry and unions to hold talks after a strike over workers’ pay led to deadly clashes.

The government, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia and labor unions should engage in negotiations and support a new wage-review mechanism to avoid future violence, the retailers said in an open letter yesterday. Adidas AG (ADS), Puma SE (PUM), Levi Strauss & Co. and Columbia Sportswear Co. (COLM) also signed the letter.

At least three people were killed when police used live ammunition to crush a protest by striking garment workers in Phnom Penh, the Cambodia Daily reported Jan. 3, citing the police. The protesters were part of a nationwide strike by garment workers demanding a doubling of the minimum wage to $160 a month, while the government offered $100.

“Our primary concerns are for the security and safety of the workers employed by our suppliers and the long-term stability of the Cambodian garment industry,” the companies said in the letter. “The only way to resolve this dispute is to cease all forms of violence, and for stakeholders to enter into good-faith negotiations.”
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BLOOMBERG

* Rare gov’t insight in Korea docs:

Documents removed from the South Korean embassy’s Facebook page following a media firestorm over that nation’s alleged role in last week’s violence provide unprecedented insight into the Cambodian government’s thinking prior to the crackdown and suggest officials initially aimed to take a “cautious” approach.

Accused in recent days of leaning on the government to forcefully crack down on striking garment workers to protect South Korean-owned factories, the South Korean embassy yesterday vehemently denied the allegations, saying such claims were “ill-intentioned” and based on false information.

In several international media reports published this week, South Korea stood accused of urging the Cambodian government to send soldiers and police to protect business interests. But an embassy representative said yesterday that South Korean officials met with army and police representatives on Saturday – after the brutal crackdown on demonstrators on Thursday and Friday by authorities that left at least four dead and scores injured.
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PPP new

* South Korean Embassy Denies Role in Strike Suppression:

The South Korean Embassy on Wednesday denied a news report that it had lobbied Cambodian military authorities to “crack down on protesters” in a bid to shield Korean investments in the garment industry, prior to Friday’s killing of five protesters and the wounding of more than 40 others by military police officers.

A story published late Tuesday by the U.S.-based GlobalPost news service cited a statement by the South Korean Embassy—posted online in Korean—in which embassy staff allegedly said that they had asked the Cambodian military to “act swiftly” in protecting factories owned by their citizens.

According to GlobalPost, in the statement on Monday, “the South Korean Embassy took credit for convincing the Cambodian government to ‘understand the seriousness of this situation and act swiftly.’ It cited high-level lobbying over the past two weeks as contribution to the ‘success’ of protecting business interests.”
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Labour Rights Groups Condemn Violence Against Garment Workers in Cambodia :

Groups call on global clothing brands to use their influence to achieve an
end to repression against workers involved in wage protests and the
resumption of good-faith wage negotiations.

Labour rights groups and trade unions across the world are expressing
outrage at the brutal violence and repression in Cambodia following
demonstrations by garment and footwear workers calling for a raise in the
minimum wage.

The groups, including Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights
Forum, Worker Rights Consortium, Maquila Solidarity Network, United
Students Against Sweatshops, International Union League for Brand
Responsibility, Workers United, SEIU, Framtiden i våre hender, and CNV
Internationaal, The Netherlands, are calling on GLOBAL CLOTHING BRANDS to
take immediate action and contact the CAMBODIAN GOVERNMENT demanding:

* Immediate end to all violence and intimidation against workers and their
representatives;
* Release of all those who have been detained for participation in the
struggles;
* Respect for freedom of association and the workers’ right to strike;
* Refraining from charging the workers and trade union leaders who have
participated in the strike;
* Resumption of good-faith minimum wage negotiations; and
* Ensuring all those responsible for the violence against the strikers are
held to account.

Violence against garment workers began after Cambodian unions called a
national strike on December 24, 2013. Workers were demanding an increase in
the minimum wage to USD 160 per month. As protests continued, the police
and military responded with violence on January 2 and 3, killing at least 4
people and injuring almost 40.
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Site

* Global Week of Action against Gov’t Crackdown on Cambodian Protesters:

While the New Year’s firecrackers signaled hope for people around the world, Cambodian garment workers protesting for a rise in wages faced a violent police crackdown on January 2, 2014.

Two days later, Freedom Park in Phnom Penh, where civil society have traditionally gathered, was forcibly cleared by police and mass actions are now banned from the site. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development joins organisations from the region calling on international civil society to hold a Global Week of Action starting Friday, 10 January 2014. It will be a week of protest against state repression of workers and civil society, protection for workers’ right to freedom of assembly, and right to a living wage.

Violent crackdowns were instigated by Cambodian military on 2 January when workers of the Yak Jin factory held a protest asking for a salary increase from the current starvation wage of 80 USD to 160 USD. Soldiers threatened protesters with “metal pipes, knives, AK47 rifles, slingshots and batons” and arrested 10 people including monks and members of civil society organizations.
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20140109 STOP ATTACK

* BetterFactories Media Updates 28 December 2013- 9 January 2014, Wages and widespread strike in Cambodian garment industry:

 * To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-12-30 CNRP calls a timeout
2013-12-30 CNRP timeout on marches
2013-12-31 Take it or leave it offer
2014-01-01 Extra 5 dollars won’t woo workers
2014-01-01 Workers out, deadlines loom
2014-01-02 Teachers union targeted
2014-01-03 CNRP cites assaults in nixing talks
2014-01-03 Strike violence erupts
2014-01-06 Cambodia’s garment to ship piece to piece
2014-01-06 Canadia park, a ghost town
2014-01-06 Exodus follows violent clash
2014-01-06 Leadership of CNRP digging in
2014-01-06 Picking up the pieces
2014-01-06 Veng Sreng’s voices
2014-01-07 For families of 23 arrested silence
2014-01-07 ICC complaint to lay shootings at PM’s feet
2014-01-07 Ministry too busy to sit down with unions
2014-01-07 Wage fight to wound key sector
2014-01-08 Garment manufacturers planning to sue unions
2014-01-08 ILO doubts bleak garment outlook
2014-01-08 Millions in damages sought
2014-01-08 Opposition preps plans for demos
2014-01-09 Rare gov’t insight in Korea docs
2014-01-09 Silence broken at last
2014-01-09 SL protester 15, released after months
2014-01-09 Strikers fired over Svay Rieng
2014-01-09 UN rigths body seeks probe into shootings

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-12-28-29 Defense minister warns protesters against blocking streets
2013-12-28-29 Workers block roads, vow further strikes
2013-12-30 Factories closed until safety guaranteed
2013-12-30 Protesters unite around demand for Hun Sen’s resignation
2013-12-30 Reasons why Cambodian protesters must remain nonviolent
2013-12-30 UN Rights Envoy urges calm amid protests
2013-12-30 Workers’ 160 dollars demand not excessive, simply necessary
2013-12-31 Gov’t unveils legal plan to break garment industry strike
2013-12-31 Italy’s garment shops boom as Chinese staff suffer
2013-12-31 Some factories stay open despite GMAC’s call for shutdown
2014-01-01 Amid strikes, minister raises minimum wage to $100
2014-01-02 Bangladesh issues warrant for fugitive factory owner
2014-01-02 CPP, CNRP to meet Friday to discuss negotiation
2014-01-02 Unions to bring demonstrations to factory gates
2014-01-03 Paratroopers deployed at Garment protest 15 detained, injured
2014-01-03 Wal-Mart recalls donkey meat across China
2014-01-04-05 Court charges protesters as supporters, police scuffle
2014-01-04-05 Military police kill 5 during clash with demonstrators
2014-01-04-05 Police free detained monks, rights workers
2014-01-04-05 UN, Union and City Hall meet to discuss how to resolve protest violence
2014-01-06 After deadly clashes, garment workers flee Veng Sreng street
2014-01-06 Five killed during protest confirmed as garment workers
2014-01-06 GMAC defends use of force against striking workers
2014-01-06 Government blasted for eviction of freedom park
2014-01-06 Vietnamese shop near protest site looted by demonstrators
2014-01-07 Anti-eviction acitivists grabbed off street, detained
2014-01-07 Flouting law, government holds protest prisioners incognito
2014-01-07 Garment strike cost industry $200 millions, GMAC says
2014-01-07 Government finds denialability in district security force
2014-01-07 Military police deny their bullets killed five protesters
2014-01-07 Police block, search garment worker’s vans in Svay Rieng
2014-01-08 Arrested protesters’ whereabouts still unknown
2014-01-08 Rights groups condemn killing of protesters
2014-01-08 Teachers to recommence strike for higher wage
2014-01-08 Unions tell garment workers to suspend strike
2014-01-08 Vietnamese shops worry over possible violence
2014-01-08 Wounded recount rampage by military police
2014-01-09 As strikers return work, factories sue garment unions factories
2014-01-09 Authorities begin to clamp down on striking teachers
2014-01-09 Bangladesh vote unrest squeeze textiles sector
2014-01-09 Businesses assess damage from clashes along Veng Sreng street
2014-01-09 Clothes made in Cambodia are tainted in blood
2014-01-09 Conflicting figures on number of slain at garment protest
2014-01-09 Crushing protests, CPP has abandoned constitution
2014-01-09 For nonviolence to prevail over brutality, discipline is needed
2014-01-09 For workers, wage rise is shift from surviving to thriving
2014-01-09 GMAC doesn’t support violence to end industrial disputes
2014-01-09 International condemnation grows in wake of deadly clash
2014-01-09 South Korean embassy denies role in strike suppression
2014-01-09 Twenty-three arrested protesters held in Kampong Cham prison

* To read in the printed edition of the Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2014-01-06 Cambodian National Union Council calls for legal right protection for workers not participating in strikes
2014-01-06 Clashes on Veng Srey immensely damage
2014-01-06 Open letter from workers calling for workers to go back to work and stop following incitement

* To read in the printed edition of the Rasmei Kampuchea Daily (Khmer):
2014-01-04 About 80 percent of factories starts operating
2014-01-04 Clashes along Veng Sreng 4 killed at least 30 injured 11 arrested
2014-01-04 CNRP’s mass demonstration is waiting for the decision from Ministry of Interior
2014-01-04 Ministry to discuss with 5 unions presidents on 8 January
2014-01-04 Workers destroyed Independent Clinic along Veng Srey road
2014-01-04 Workers go back to their homeland after unrest

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

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20140110

* Families of Killed and Missing Protesters Compile Complaint:

Family members of striking garment factory workers killed, wounded and missing after military police violently suppressed last Friday’s Veng Sreng Street protests have begun preparing complaints to file with authorities and rights NGOs.

At least five people were shot dead, and more than 40 were in­jured, after military police armed with AK-47 assault rifles put down a protest of stone-throwing striking workers.

Chiev Panith, 20, the wife of Sam Ravy, who was shot dead by military police, said that she would file a complaint to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court seeking an investigation into her husband’s death, and to identify the killer.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Lawyers Prevented From Seeing Protest Detainees at CC3:

Lawyers and human rights workers were prevented from entering Kompong Cham province’s Correctional Center 3 (CC3) prison on Thursday when they attempted to meet with some of the 23 protesters, union leaders and garment workers detained last week after protests were lethally suppressed by government forces.

Security at the notorious and remote CC3 prison, which is located near the Vietnamese border, has also been ramped up in recent days, bolstered by the deployment of about 50 soldiers to the facility, lawyers and staff from rights group Adhoc said.

“We are not permitted to meet our clients,” said Muth Piseth, a lawyer hired to defend 10 of the detained strikers who were rounded up by military police at the Canadia Industrial Park in Pur Senchey district’s Veng Sreng Street.
The 10 have been charged with perpetrating intentional violence and causing damage.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* 100 Factories Suing Unions Behind Strike:

More than 100 factories have now filed lawsuits against the six trade unions behind recent strikes for higher garment worker wages, and a lawyer representing garment manufacturers said Thursday that more suits are likely to come.

The factories accuse the six non-government aligned unions of inciting the protests, which occasionally turned violent and inflicted some damage on their properties. The unions have all denied the accusation and in turn accuse security forces of using excessive force against protesters, killing at least five and injuring 42 demonstrators last week.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court chief clerk Prak Savouth said he has received a slew of complaints since Monday from Khieu Sambo, a lawyer for the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents most of the 500-plus shoe and garment factories in the country.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia unions face court action over strike:

Union leader says judiciary politicised but pledges to fight charges filed by garment-factory owners after two-week row.

Thousands of garment workers have returned to work in Cambodia since a strike for higher pay was put down with deadly force by the authorities last week.

However, employers are now filing cases in courts against trade unions over the two-week dispute.
Khieu Sambo, an attorney representing the firms against the six unions involved in the strike, told Reuters news agency that more than 150 factories had filed cases and more were being prepared.
“The lawsuits will focus on incitement to strike, damage to property and assets, coercion and threatening workers who want to work,” Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said on Friday.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, one of those targeted, said the judiciary was politicised but he would still fight the charges in court.
“They sued us because they want to intimidate us so we won’t strike any more and we won’t help the workers. We are not afraid.”
read more.
aljazeera

* One week later: Coming to terms with Cambodia’s brutal protest crackdown:

A week ago today Cambodian police shot and killed five protesting garment factory employees. In Phnom Penh, workers, activists and labor groups are still struggling to make sense of the violence

Grassroots protestors, folk songs and labor rights activists converged at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh last week as garment workers campaigned to raise their minimum wage from $80 a month to $160.

After the Ministry of Labor approved a wage increase to $95 a month, trade unions and workers took to the streets, demanding $160. According to rights activists, the approved $95 wage is simply not enough to live on. So the campaign continued, galvanized by the support of Cambodia’s opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which had joined the protest in support.

Yet the peaceful protest ended in riots as the military closed in, shot and killed five garment factory workers and injured over 30 others on January 3. A ban on gatherings of groups larger than 10 has been put in place. Twenty-three protesters and labor leaders were missing for a week after their arrest.
read more.
asiancorres

* Despite bail, 15-year-old still in jail:

A juvenile accused of destroying a police car during a violent strike by SL Garment factory workers in November remained in Prey Sar prison yesterday, despite the Court of Appeal having granted him bail.

Sary Bothchakrya, a lawyer from the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) representing the suspect, said the 15-year-old had been granted bail because he has a history of mental illness, but that he would probably not be released until next week.

“Now he is in the jail while we are completing the bail documents for the court to process,” she said. “He will be released from the jail next week, I think.”

Chim Sambo, 27, a relative of the detained youth, told the Post yesterday that the suspect was not involved in violence between police and factory workers. Police arrested the boy, he continued, while he was collecting scrap metal to sell after the men who burned the police car had already left the scene.
read more.
PPP new

* Svay Rieng garment workers fired, suspended:

Due to incorrect information provided to the Post, a previous version of this story reported that Kingmaker (Cambodia) Footwear Co Ltd. fired 200 workers on December 27 for striking. A factory representative said 200 people participated in demonstrations, but were not fired.

Factories in Svay Rieng province’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone have fired or suspended at least 50 workers – and are pursuing legal action against some – for participating in a strike last month that saw some 30,000 walk off the job.

Heads of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) and Cambodian Alliance Trade Union (CATU) told the Post yesterday that 50 members of their unions were dismissed last week.
read more.
PPP new

* To understand Cambodia’s labor crackdown, open your closet:

A police crackdown on striking garment workers in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, last week left at least four people dead and several others wounded. But they are not the first casualties in the Southeast Asian country’s race to the bottom to prop up the garment industry. Unless things change for the better, they won’t be the last.

Worker unrest has been evident in Cambodia for several years. However, the latest flare-up of violence is not simply a tale about a faraway place where garments make up 80 percent of exports. It is deeply connected to the West. In choosing not to intervene, American and European multinational companies — particularly the top global apparel brands that source their clothes from the country — are enabling both the repression and the mistreatment of garment workers in Cambodia. In fact, these companies are also directly responsible and are well positioned to stop the violence and improve labor conditions.

But they have done very little so far. Seven global clothing companies, including the Swedish retail-clothing company H&M and the San Francisco-based clothier Gap, have publicly condemned the violence and called for a negotiated settlement to the crisis. But they should use their clout with Cambodian authorities to push for higher labor standards and demand an immediate end to the repression.
read more.
ALJAZEERA US

* Garment sector economics:

In this week’s interview, the Post’s Hor Kimsay sits down with Hiroshi Suzuki, chief economist at the Business Research Institute for Cambodia (BRIC). Suzuki discusses the debate about minimum wages in the garment sector, strikes and whether increases will hurt Cambodia’s competitiveness.

How much of an effect will the combination of garment strikes, violence and political tensions have on economic growth?
From my point of view regarding macroeconomic growth, the effect is not so big. The economy is driven forward by several kinds of engines, including the garment sector, tourism, agriculture, construction and real estate. The tourism industry is enjoying an increase in visitors. The agriculture and construction sectors are also performance well. Having a look at all these things, we can see that growth in these sectors will support the fundamentals of Cambodia’s economy.

What about the garment sector?
Of course, some of it is affected, because many factories were closed and they could not produce to meet deadlines. Some were damaged. It also could affect the volume of orders from the buyers. But, Cambodia is not alone. Bangladesh, a garment industry country, is facing a big fight because of its recent election. It is fortunate that the economy of the US and EU are recovering.
read more.
PPP new

* Japan Asked Government to Protect Its Interests During Strike:

Japan has expressed its deep concern about the situation in Cambodia following the deadly crackdown on striking garment workers last Friday, and admitted Thursday that it had contacted the government during the protests to ask for protection of Japanese citizens and companies.

Military police armed with AK-47 assault rifles shot five people dead and wounded 42 more after opening fire on protesters outside the Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, bringing to a bloody conclusion a week of mostly peaceful demonstrations by garment factory workers calling for an increase to their minimum wage.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* As a community reels in the wake of violence, different voices reflect:

Veng Sreng Boulevard, in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, is home to garment workers who sew for brands like Gap and H&M in the 61 factories within the Canadia Industrial Park complex.

Late last week, strikes by employees asking for a minimum wage of $160 per month erupted in violence. At least four protesters were killed and many more injured as security forces fired live rounds into the crowd. Others were arrested – 23 remain in prison but have not been charged. Dozens of businesses were damaged in the chaotic aftermath.
Nearby, hospitals were crowded with the injured and their families. Here, seven individuals caught up in the events tell their stories of the violence, the repercussions and the fear-filled days that followed. Poppy McPherson and Will Jackson report.
read more.
PPP new

* Volunteer medic team swallows fear to help save lives at clashes:

As heavily armed military police advanced down Veng Sreng Boulevard at the Canadia Industrial Park early in the afternoon on Friday, January 3, Norm Sinath cautiously raised his hands.

Although the green cross on his vest clearly indicated that he was a medic, Sinath was taking no chances. Moments before, the same policemen had fired a volley of automatic rifle shots above the heads of demonstrators who had failed to clear the site.

“Don’t run away,” Sinath advised those around him as the police marched forward about 10 metres away. “If we run, they’ll think we’re protesters.”
Around four hours earlier, at least four demonstrators had been killed and dozens injured when supporters of the garment strike clashed with authorities in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district.
read more.
PPP new

* Groups condemn Cambodia worker crackdown:

Several civil society groups handed over a memorandum to the Cambodian embassy today, protesting the neighbouring country’s recent violent crackdown on workers striking for higher wages.

Representatives from Dignity International, Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, Committee for Asian Women, Jerit, MTUC, Suaram and Junior Officers Union Tenaga Nasional Berhad submitted the letter to Chhay Kosal, third secretary (Consular and Administration) at the embassy.

“We the undersigned strongly condemn the use of extreme force, violence and arrest to quell garment workers’ strike in Cambodia on Jan 2 and 3, 2014.

“The garment workers’ strike is a legitimate expression of the desperation of garment workers who are crushed under poverty level wages,” the memorandum, endorsed by 17 local and international NGOs as well as Klang MP Charles Santiago and Senator Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud, reads.
read more.
FREEMALAYSIATODAY

* Cambodia: Stop government violence against workers:

This campaign is in solidarity with Cambodian garment workers and unions, who initiated a general strike seeking an increase in minimum wage from US$80 per month to US$160.

The strike was very effective, with many thousands of workers participating, and the employers association (GMAC) called a lockout and urged the government to crack down on the workers.
On January 3, 2014, the government sent military police to attack a demonstration at one of the struck factories, and they opened fire on the demonstration with AK-47 rifles and killed five workers and seriously injured dozens more.
The government has since banned all demonstrations and used military force to clear the streets. At least 39 workers have been detained and are held in unknown locations.
Faced with this brutal repression, the unions have called off the strike and workers are returning to work, although they are continuing to press their demands.
read more and please sign here.
     

20140109 STOP ATTACK

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20140111

* Stop the violence against Cambodian garment workers:

Cambodian garment workers make around $80 a month, taking on long hours of overtime in harsh conditions.

Now workers across the country are standing up for themselves to demand more – but the fight for a better wage in Cambodia is a dangerous one. This video is to show the workers who are standing up – and the violence that’s consistently employed to keep them quiet.
Photos and video by Heather Stilwell. @HeatherStilwell
see Video.
HEATHER

* Groups Demand Mandatory Minimum Wage, Threaten Protest:

About 100 people, including 20 monks, held a ceremony in Phnom Penh on Friday in memory of the five people killed a week beforehand when military police opened fire on protesting garment workers, and demanded that the government introduce a mandatory, sector-wide standard minimum wage.

In Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune, representatives from seven advocacy groups and unions said they stood in solidarity with the garment workers, who are calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $160 per month, but said such a sum should be introduced in other sectors too.

The groups, which included the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community and the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, also called for the release of 23 strikers, activists and union representatives are detained in Kompong Cham province’s maximum security Correctional Center 3 (CC3) after their arrest last week.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Committees to ‘Research’ Minimum Wages, ‘Study’ Killings:

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday assigned former Finance Minister Keat Chhon as the head of a newly formed committee tasked with researching the government’s capacity to introduce wage increases for civil servants and factory workers.

In a statement released by the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, Mr. Hun Sen said that he wants Mr. Chhon to “discuss with related institutions and parties over the possibility for raising salaries and reforming the salary system for civil servants.”

On January 3, military police shot dead five and wounded more than 40 protesting garment factory workers during clashes on Veng Sreng Street after a week of mass demonstrations to demand a monthly minimum wage of $160.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodian garment workers return to work; firms sue unions:

Tens of thousands of garment workers have returned to work in Cambodia since a strike for higher pay was put down with deadly force by the authorities last week but employers are now piling up lawsuits against trade unions over the two-week dispute.

The garment makers’ association said most workers had returned to work around the country by Friday although only about 60 percent had shown up at the Canadia Industrial Park in the capital, Phnom Penh, where military police opened fire on January 3, killing three strikers according to the government.

The park is home to factories that make clothes for Western brands such as Adidas AG, H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB and Puma SE.
“The lawsuits will focus on incitement to strike, damage to property and assets, coercion and threatening workers who want to work,” Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), told Reuters.

Khieu Sambo, an attorney representing firms against the six unions involved in the strike, told Reuters that more than 150 factories had filed lawsuits and more were being prepared.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, one of those targeted, said the judiciary was politicised but he would still fight the charges in court.
“They sued us because they want to intimidate us so we won’t strike any more and we won’t help the workers,” he said. “We are not afraid.”
read more.
reuters

* World Retailers Want Negotiations in Cambodia Labor Dispute:

Major international clothing companies say they are concerned for the safety of Cambodia’s garment workers and want to see peaceful negotiations between unions, factories and the government.

The workers have been on strike for weeks, calling for the monthly minimum wage to be doubled to $160. The industry employs up to 400,000 people.
Five people were killed, 40 injured and 23 arrested in crackdowns on striking workers and other demonstrators last week. Many laborers have since returned to work but unions are still calling for a raise.

In an unusual move, major international clothing retailers, including H&M, Adidas, Gap, Columbia, Puma and Levi Strauss, this week signed a joint letter decrying violence against workers.
“We strongly oppose any form of violence, and urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to drive negotiations among stakeholders to peacefully resolve this dispute,” Laura Wilkinson, a spokeswoman for Gap, told VOA Khmer in an e-mail.
read more.
voa

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20140112

* Big brands must act on Cambodia’s pay crisis:

The protests of Cambodian garment workers which ended in a fatal clash with police early this month highlight the plight of workers who make a significant contribution to the country’s economic success.

The protesters, whose demonstrations bolstered efforts by the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party to challenge prime minister Hun Sen, were demanding an increase in the minimum wage _ which is now US$95 per month (about 3,100 baht) _ to $160.

The demand of another $65 per month to the wage has been turned down by the Hun Sen government and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC). In 2010, the minimum wage was $50 per month.

Needless to say, the Cambodian government wants to maintain the low wage _ the significant factor that makes Cambodia attractive to investors who supply to leading global fashion brands such as Gap and H&M. Over the past decade, many of the world’s fashion labels have shifted their production base for this labour-intensive industry to developing countries. The garment industry is a huge sector that provides jobs to some 30,000 Cambodian workers.
read more.
bangkokpost

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20140113

* Cambodian government must investigate killings and increase minimum wage:

IndustriALL Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) calls for the Cambodian government to act immediately to investigate the killing of four garment workers during strikes on 3 January, release all 23 detained unionists, and set a minimum wage on which workers and their families can at least meet their basic needs.

On 10-13 January, IndustriALL and the IUC joined forces for an international trade union mission to Cambodia. Demanding the release of jailed unionists, an investigation into the killings, and an increased minimum wage, the mission expresses particular concern over the fate of union president Vorn Pao. He was severely beaten and remains in jail despite his poor physical condition.

The mission demands the establishment of a credible, independent inquiry to investigate the killings and for those responsible to be held accountable. This demand was put to Cambodia’s Labour Minister today.

The delegation also informed him that the plan announced to set up a government-controlled inquiry is seen as insufficient, given that government such committees have produced few results in the past.

Calls for urgent action to raise the minimum wage and a government pledge to fully respect ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, which Cambodia has ratified, were also put to the Minister. A government proposal to set up a new Commission on wages, headed by the Finance Minister, was described as inadequate. No meeting of that Commission has been scheduled yet, and further delay in establishing a decent minimum wage is likely to lead to further industrial action as workers seek justice.
read more.
Home

* Cambodia: Statement from International Trade Union Mission:

An international trade union mission to Cambodia has today called for the government to act immediately to investigate the killing of four garment workers during strikes on 3 January, release all 23 detained unionists, and set a minimum wage on which workers and their families can at least meet their basic needs.

The mission has expressed particular concern over the fate of union president Vorn Pao, who was severely beaten and remains in jail despite his poor physical condition.
In a statement issued by the ITUC, its regional body ITUC-AP and the regional office of Global Union Federation IndustriALL, the mission demanded the establishment of a credible, independent inquiry to investigate the killings and for those responsible to be held accountable. This demand was put to Cambodia’s Labour Minister today.
read more.
ITUC CSI IGB

* Unions Want Government, Factories to Resume Wage Talks:

The unions behind several days of strikes that turned deadly this month said they will officially ask the Labor Ministry today to resume negotiations on a new minimum wage for the country’s critical garment sector, and said they would hold more street protests if their request is rebuffed.

The six unions led strikes for a doubling of the sector’s monthly minimum wage to $160 that peaked when military police shot into crowds of protesters outside a Phnom Penh factory on January 3, killing five people and wounding dozens more.

Though most workers have since returned to their factories and the Labor Ministry has offered to boost the minimum wage from $80 to $100 per month, the unions said Sunday that they were sticking to their demand for $160.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Relatives Call On Government to Release 23 Detainees:

Relatives and human rights activists on Sunday called on the government to release 23 men beaten and arrested during clashes between police and garment workers just more than a week ago, and said they would defy a ban on public gatherings if they were not.

The 23 protesters, union leaders and garment workers were apprehended during two days of violent demonstrations—for a doubling of the monthly minimum wage for garment workers to $160—that turned deadly on January 3 when military police shot and killed five people and wounded dozens more. The 23 have since been charged with intentionally causing violence and damage to property.

At a press conference at the Phnom Penh home of one of the detainees, anti-eviction activist Chan Puthisak, about 40 relatives and activists condemned the men’s arrest and demanded their immediate release.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Labour rallies move overseas:

20140113 PPP Protesters-Seoul
Protesters outside the Cambodian embassy in Seoul yesterday demand the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen. PHOTO SUPPLIED

As protests in Cambodia become scarce in the wake of authorities opening fire on demonstrators near Canadia Industrial Park, killing at least four people, labour and human rights advocates across the globe are showing solidarity with demonstrations of their own.

Since the deadly incident on January 3, protesters have gathered at Cambodian embassies in more than a dozen countries to publicly condemn the shooting of unarmed demonstrators.

“The shooting against the protesters cannot be justified at all,” said Mikyung Ryu, international director of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, which has organised three demonstrations in South Korea.
“On no grounds should the military fire on protesters.”

About 2,000 demonstrators attended the protest at the Cambodian embassy in Seoul yesterday, Ryu said. Their first demonstration was held at the embassy a few days after the shooting, and they held a second rally outside South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where they decried the country’s alleged complicity in the shooting.
read more. & read more.
PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Rights groups critical of gov’t investigations:

The government announced on Friday it would set up two commissions headed by Interior Minister Sar Kheng to investigate clashes between police and protesters early this month that left at least four dead, more than 20 injured and 23 arrested, a move criticised by rights groups, which said the government was incapable of carrying out an independent investigation.

One will focus on investigating the damage caused by “anarchic demonstrators”, while the other will investigate how the incident occurred. A third commission will study the minimum wages of garment workers and be headed by Minister of Finance Keat Chhon, according to a statement from the Council of Ministers.

Pointing to the creation of similar fact-finding commissions formed after violent police incidences in the past, senior Licadho monitor Am Sam Ath said there was virtually no chance these groups would uncover the truth.
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodian garment workers: The skin of their teeth, the shirt on your back:

Her quick hands and sharp eyes have, for a year, inspected the stitching in a stream of clothes before they left a factory by a dusty potholed street in Phnom Penh to head to stores in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Berlin, London and New York.

Today Ms Heit Ladi, 20, who eked out a living by the proverbial skin of her teeth on a monthly salary of US$80 (S$102) and just wanted more, lies staring at the ceiling in Phnom Penh’s Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, her upper left arm shattered by two bullets. She wonders if it will heal well enough for her to resume work.
She is among over 30 left wounded when troops opened fire on striking workers on Jan 3. Five were killed.

The local rights organisation, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights, called it “the worst state violence to hit civilians in 15 years”.
Seven global apparel brand names which buy from Cambodian factories, in an open letter to Cambodia’s strongman Premier Hun Sen last Tuesday, expressed deep concern over “the widespread civil unrest and the government’s use of deadly force”.
read more.
ASIAREPORT

* Blood on our backs:

Global garment workers deserve more than intermittent concern

20140111 ALJAZEERAUSAA garment worker on strike holds a banner demanding a minimum salary of $160 a month on December 27, 2013 in Phnom Penh, CambodiaOmar Havana/Getty Images

Early one morning about a week ago, I awoke in a shiver, grabbed a purple cotton shirt from my closet and pulled it over my head. I didn’t notice the label. I made my coffee and checked the news.

On the other side of the globe, five Cambodians had been shot and killed and more than 20 wounded as military police cracked down on a swelling demonstration of garment workers protesting for higher pay. I clicked on the wrenching photo of a body bathed in blood, his shirt and pants painted the same startling red as the dirt beneath him. As rocks, bricks and Molotov cocktails flew, armed forces responded with batons and bullets. The human-rights group Licadho called it the worst violence against Cambodian civilians in 15 years.

It’s a remarkably risky job, making clothes for Westerners. When the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh in April, killing more than 1,100 people, we Westerners responded with a collective pause: How, exactly, should we think about the workers who make our clothes? But we didn’t think long or hard enough. In October fire killed seven workers in a Bangladesh fabric mill that supplied cloth for Western companies. Human Rights Watch has said the tragedy could have been prevented. And now blood spatters the streets of Phnom Penh amid massive political protests, as opposition leaders demand long-standing Prime Minister Hun Sen step down after decades in charge.

I looked at the shirt on my back: a Tresics tag, “made in Cambodia.” I flipped through hangers and dresser drawers to find more made-in-Cambodia labels from Mossimo, Old Navy, Faded Glory, Gap and Sonoma, purchased long ago from Target, Walmart and Kohl’s.
read more.
ALJAZEERA US

* Another dark day in our history:

On December 29, more than 100,000 Cambodians – garment workers, teachers, farmers and students from all over the country – marched through the streets of the capital calling for Hun Sen, our long-serving prime minister-dictator, to step down or allow an independent investigation into the flawed national elections that took place in July.

The massive demonstration was the culmination of months of non-violent rallies and marches led by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). It was also the most significant challenge to Hun Sen’s 28-year reign of exploitation and corruption.

And he could not tolerate it. He would sooner draw blood than enact real reform.

For almost three decades, Hun Sen – a Khmer Rouge defector who was put in power after Vietnam toppled Pol Pot’s regime in 1979 – has convinced foreign governments to pour aid into the country, even while the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has rigged elections, sold off our natural resources, imprisoned journalists, union leaders, opposition politicians and human rights activists.
read more.
PPP new

* A family’s anguish:

It’s been a week since Khim Saphath’s family held a funeral for their missing son, last seen with blood pouring from his chest during clashes between striking garment workers and authorities on January 3.

Without a body to place in a casket, framed photos had to suffice as a physical reminder of a baby-faced 16-year-old who lied about his age to work at a Chinese-owned garment factory for $8 a day.

But although they say they have accepted the worst, Saphath’s doting parents haven’t stopped looking for him.

“I look for my son at pagodas, hospitals and clinics. Wherever we go, we ask people about him, but we have found nothing,” Saphath’s father, Khim Souern, 41, said yesterday outside the sparse rental room that the youngster shared with his older sister, a few hundred metres away from the factory where he worked. “We just want to know what happened to him, if he survived or died. If he is dead, we need to see his corpse.”
read more.
PPP new

$160

20140114

* Hun Sen: Minimum wage of workers cannot be increased to USD160:

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday said it would be impossible to double the garment workers from USD 80 to USD 160 even though he wish to see them to have better life.

“Which leaders and Prime Ministers don’t want to see their peoples have good and high standard of living,”,
Hun Sen said at the ground-breaking ceremony of Chrey Thom-Long Binh Bridge in Kandal province.

Hun Sen, who attended the ceremony with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, said the salaries of Cambodian workers are higher than those of workers in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Laos, and as high as the minimum wage in Vietnam.
He also appealed to opposition leaders to stop inciting protest to demand wage be raised to $160 per month for workers as “it is impossible”.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Huge spike in strikes: report:

20140114 PPP Garment-Strike
Garment workers hold a placard during a demonstration outside the Ministry of Labour in Phnom Penh in December. POST STAFF

Labour union officials say inflation and Cambodia’s national election contributed to a nearly 300 per cent increase in strikes last year over 2012.

An annual study of Cambodia’s labour market released yesterday by the Free Trade Union counted 381 industrial strikes in the Kingdom in 2013. The FTU reported just 101 strike actions for 2012.

“The high cost of merchandise, rental houses and food is the reason why the number of strikes is increasing so much,” FTU president Chea Mony told the Post yesterday. “When everything gets more expensive, it leads to workers demanding pay raises and increased benefits.”

Among the wage-driven strikes last year was a national garment worker strike that began on December 24 after the Ministry of Labour set the 2014 minimum monthly wage for garment and shoe factory employees at $95, a figure $65 less than the $160 unions demanded. A week later, the Labour Ministry raised the 2014 floor wage to $100, but unions balked at the small increase and continued striking.
read more.
PPP new

* Free Trade Union Reports Overall Jump in Labor Strikes in 2013:

The Free Trade Union (FTU) on Monday reported an overall increase in industrial action by its local branches last year with 136 total strikes in the first 11 months of 2013, up 35 percent from all of 2012, when there were 101 strikes by its members.

This increase does not include the 241 strikes by FTU members in December during nationwide strikes, which culminated in police shooting dead five workers and wounding more than 40 on January 3.
Chea Mony, president of the FTU, said the heightened industrial unrest among his workers was a result of the rising cost of living.

“There were a lot of strikes and protests increased because of inflation, so the workers had to demand more salary,” he said. “Also the factory workers are forced to work overtime.”
In order to reduce industrial action, Mr. Mony suggested that the government and factory owners should stop intimidating and firing union activists, and instead deal with the root causes of labor strikes: low salary and mandatory overtime.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* NGOs push for more international pressure:

Civil society groups yesterday urged the international community to put more pressure on the government to ensure the safety of prisoners arrested in recent crackdowns and to prevent further police and military violence against civilians.

At a press conference yesterday morning, images of soldiers beating and arresting protesters at Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc on January 2 played on a loop beside panellists, who criticised the government’s use of excessive force – including opening fire with live ammunition, killing at least four – at demonstrations this month.

“Those who abuse their power, especially the military and soldiers, cannot go unpunished,” Yeng Virak, executive director of the Community Legal Education Center, told journalists and NGO workers in attendance. “The armed forces and military police beat everyone – young, old, men, women and even children.”
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PPP new

* Group Defies Government Ban to Demand Detainees’ Release:

Defying a new ban on public gatherings, more than 50 activists and monks gathered outside the local U.N. human rights office Monday morning to demand the immediate release of 23 men who were arrested earlier this month during violent clashes between police and garment workers.

The 23 men were arrested during two days of demonstrations for higher garment sector wages that ended in the fatal shooting of five protesters by military police outside a Phnom Penh factory on January 3.

The Interior Ministry ordered a freeze on public gatherings of 10 or more people the next day, and the 23 men have since been charged with inciting violence and damage to private property. They each face up to 15 years in jail.

Taking advantage of the latest visit from the U.N.’s human rights envoy to Cambodia, Surya Subedi, who arrived Sunday, activists, monks and relatives of the 23 detained men met outside the U.N. office with banners and a petition asking the envoy to help secure the prisoners’ release.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Government Urged to Ease Pressure on Unions:

Visiting representatives from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) on Monday urged the Labor Ministry to withdraw its threat to revoke the licenses of six unions behind recent strikes, and to drop legal proceedings against union leader Rong Chhun.

ITUC deputy general-secretary Jaap Wienen, whose Belgium-based group works with unions around the world including Mr. Chhun’s Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said he delivered the “advice” at a private meeting with Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng on Monday morning.

His visit follows garment worker protests that peaked on January 3 when military police opened fire on demonstrators outside a Phnom Penh factory, killing five and wounding dozens. About 100 factories have since sued the six unions for allegedly inciting the violence, and Mr. Chhun is scheduled for questioning today.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Pressure grows for reforms of Cambodia garment industry:

Four dead. Thirty-seven injured. Three missing. Twenty-three detained.

Driving through the evening streets of Phnom Penh, Kong Athit grimly details the casualty toll of last week’s bloody crackdown in the Cambodian capital. “All of the dead were garment workers. All of the missing are garment workers. Among the 23 detainees, 21 are garment workers.”

Athit is the vice-president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, or C-CAWDU, and his membership has been out in force through rolling protests in the capital, demanding an increase in the minimum monthly wage to $160.
This, the bloodiest protest thus far, commenced Christmas Eve, grew into the hundreds of thousands, and exploded in two violent standoffs between rock-throwing, stick-bearing protesters, who by day earn a meagre living sewing garments for global brand name manufacturers, and local police with AK-47s.
For four days the whereabouts of detainees, charged with “intentional violence” and “intentional damage,” was unknown even to family members. Athit says C-CAWDU leaders are now under close watch by security police.
read more.
the STAR 2

* The ITUC Is Watching You Too:

Mr. Jaap Wienen, Deputy General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) representing 176 million workers worldwide, had a meeting at the Ministry of Labour, giving his full support to the cambodian workers demands of a $US160 monthly salary and the release of the workers and union leaders arrested during the January 2nd and 3rd crackdown (see HERE and HERE).

read & see more.
JohnVink

Cambodian opposition leaders appear in court on suspicion of inciting social unrest:

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his deputy Kem Sokha as well as a union chief Rong Chhun faced court hearings on Tuesday on suspicion of inciting garment workers to stage a violent protest on January 3.

Hundreds of their supporters and human rights monitors had gathered outside the court’s building as the court questioned the trio one by one.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Jan. 3 summoned the trio to question about their possible involvement in “inciting to commit crimes or conducting actions that cause serious chaos to social security.”

The summonses came after a garment protest over low wage hike on Phnom Penh’s outskirts on Jan. 3 turned violent, leaving four protesters shot dead, 26 injured and 11 arrested.

After being questioned by the court for several hours, the trio had left the court smiling broadly to their waiting supporters.
“We had answered the court’s questions, we tell the truth,” Sam Rainsy told the cheering crowd, vowing to continue struggling nonviolently to demand justice.
read more. & read more.
GLOBALTIMES CAMHERALD

* Cambodian opposition duo, leader of union in court for ‘inciting’ protest:

Two leaders of Cambodia’s main opposition party and a union chief appeared in court yesterday morning on charges of inciting garment factory workers to protest two weeks ago. Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and his deputy Kem Sokha said they had done nothing wrong and would contest the charges of “inciting civil unrest”.

“The prosecutors have no evidence whatsoever,” opposition member Mu Sochua said outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Protests for a higher minimum wage for some 500,000 garment workers culminated in a clash with police on January 3.Five protesters were killed and dozens injured after police opened fire on rock-throwing strikers. Mu Sochua said there should be an independent probe into the use of force by police.
read more.
theNATIONnew

* It will be happening tomorrow in  hnomPenh for #MW160KH:

Mozes
By

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* Garment Workers Go Back on Strike Over Unpaid Wages:

Thousands of garment workers from four factories have gone back on strike this week to protest a decision by their employers to withhold pay for the days they did not work during recent nationwide strikes.

Between 8,500 and 12,500 workers at four factories—two in Phnom Penh, one in Kandal and another in Kompong Cham—have gone back on strike, union representatives and workers said Tuesday.

“This is the second day of strikes by workers who are demanding that the two factories [in Phnom Penh] pay them because they cut their wages 100 percent for the time they were off during the strike,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

Union representatives at the two other factories said workers there were striking for the same reason.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Wages on par with regional standard: PM :

Amid calls for the government to raise Cambodian garment workers’ minimum monthly wage to $160, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said that wages garment workers earn fall in line with regional standards.

In a speech at a groundbreaking ceremony for a bridge project in Kandal province yesterday, the premier asserted that garment workers in neighbouring countries and Cambodian workers in other industries earn less than Cambodian apparel workers, and garment factories cannot afford the increase unions demand.

“I asked the Vietnamese Prime Minister about the minimum wage of garment workers in Vietnam; he said they get more than $100 per month,” Hun Sen said. “If [we] compare this to our increase to $100, it’s nearly the same as Vietnam, but higher than India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Laos.”

Hun Sen added that garment factories could not afford a sudden jump to $160 from last year’s minimum wage decree of $80, which includes a $5 health bonus.
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PPP new

* Hun Sen Says He’s Here to Stay; Higher Wages Must Wait:

Prime Minister Hun Sen used a groundbreaking ceremony for a new bridge linking Cambodia to Vietnam on Tuesday to reiterate that he has no plans to step down from his position, and told opposition supporters who have called for his ouster to settle in for a long wait.

The ceremony for the $38.4 million Chrey Thom bridge in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district, which was agreed on during Mr. Hun Sen’s trip to Vietnam last month, came on the third day of a three-day visit by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* PM’s Reaction to Demand for Double Pay Rise:

Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has made his first public reaction to the request to double the garment workers’ monthly minimum wage.

The increase of the garment workers’ minimum wage to US$160 per month is impossible, underlined the Cambodian premier while he was presiding over the groundbreaking ceremony of Chrey Thom-Long Binh Bridge in Koh Thom, Cambodia’s province of Kandal, this morning.

The pay rise should be done in accordance with the ability, said Samdech Techo Hun Sen, stressing that the minimum wage in Cambodia is higher than in other countries such as India, Bangladesh, ….
read more.
CA akp

* Questioning draws rally:

Opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha were questioned at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, but were released without charge in a case they say amounts to nothing more than political machinations by the ruling party.

The duo, along with unionist Rong Chhun, arrived at the court separately yesterday morning to face questioning over claims they incited garment workers to commit crimes and disrupt social order after their strikes took a violent turn earlier this month.

“They just asked us questions in order to assess our possible involvement in the worker demonstrations, so we have explained to them [that] even though we support the workers’ cause, we have never been involved in any act of violence,” Rainsy said at a press conference following the questioning.
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PPP new

* ILO statement on Cambodia:

The ILO deplores the loss of life and expresses its deep concern as regards the deaths, assaults and arrests of workers during the latest strike in Cambodia.

The ILO calls on the Government to launch an independent inquiry without delay to determine the justification for the action taken by the police, to determine responsibilities, punish those responsible and prevent the repetition of such acts. Authorities should resort to the use of force only in situations where law and order is seriously threatened.

As regards the allegations of arrests, the ILO recalls that the detention of trade unionists for reasons related to their activities in defence of workers’ interests constitutes a serious interference with civil liberties in general and trade union rights in particular.
read more.
ILO

* Confidence needed to keep jobs:

Dear Editor,

When workers took to the streets and protested for an immediate 100 per cent wage increase of up to $160 within a year, in hindsight I keep asking myself what should be the options for civil servants and university graduates who earn less than $100?

With 300,000 youth entering the job market each year, work is increasingly difficult to find, even for many university graduates, prompting some of them to take jobs with meager salaries in order to gain experience and to build skills to compete in the increasingly fierce job market.

For these people, should they also take to the streets or should they change their jobs to work at factories?
read more.
PPP new

$160

20140116

* Manhattan workers on strike again:

More than 1,000 workers at the Manhattan (Cambodia) Co Ltd garment factory in Kampong Cham province are striking in the wake of factory management’s reaction to their last strike action.

Employees walked off the job nearly two weeks ago, after the suspension of seven Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) representatives who allegedly led workers to participate in a previous nationwide garment strike.

“Some workers who joined the mass demonstration … returned to work,” said Kim Oun, one of the suspended employees. “But most of the workers refused, because their seven union representatives were suspended from work and sued in court.”

Workers are demanding the factory drop court complaints filed against four of the reps, and not punish returning employees, Oun said.
An unnamed provincial Labour Department official said the department would meet with the union to find a solution today.
to read.
PPP new

* Strike action still on table, unions say:

Leaders of unions that declared a nationwide garment worker strike said the work stoppage and protests, which they temporarily suspended, will resume unless government officials renegotiate the industry’s minimum wage.

The announcement was their first since authorities cracked down on strike demonstrations on January 2 and opened fire on protesters near Canadia Industrial Park the following day, killing at least four.

Speaking at a forum, union heads appealed to the government to release 23 people arrested during demonstrations and to hold authorities accountable for the deadly shooting, in addition to entering into minimum wage negotiations with unions.

“We won’t suspend [the strike] too long; if there is no solution, we will re-declare a grand strike,” Rong Chhun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Unions, said at the forum. “We will prepare for [more] gatherings.”

The minimum wage for employees at garment and shoe factories now stands at $80 per month, which includes a $5 health bonus. The Ministry of Labour last month announced the minimum wage would climb to $95 in 2014, but later amended the decision, setting this year’s industry floor wage at $100.
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PPP new

* Labor unions ask to resume talk, set up scientific wage system:

The labor unions asked to set up a scientific wage system to solve the wage crisis while they continue to demand a monthly wage of USD160, which can allow the workers to live a decent life.

They made such an appeal during a press conference on Wednesday. During the conference, they also urged to restart the negotiation on the minimum wage, warning that they just suspend the strike and if necessary, they will go on strike again in case there is no solution to their demand.

“To set up this system, we request the ILO’s technical assistance, which is more neutral, reliable and acceptable to all parties concerned,” said the joint statement released Wednesday by the main labor unions.

The unions would like to stress that the monthly minimum wage of $100 cannot ensure a decent living wage. Based on a research conducted by the tripartite committee with the agreement of all parties, it was found that workers spend from $157 to $177 per month, and the Ministry of Planning’s report also found a living cost of $164 per month per person.

Representatives from international unions, national and international organisations, buyers and other stakeholders have recently confirmed that workers live in an extremely difficult condition. The government and employers are, therefore, required to provide a fair minimum wage for workers and to unconditionally set free all the detained workers and human rights activists involved in the recent wage protest.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Unions Warn of More Strikes Unless Wage Talks Resume:

The trade unions behind recently suspended nationwide strikes defended their ongoing demand for a $160 monthly minimum wage for the country’s 600,000 garment workers on Wednesday, and vowed to resume the strikes if the government and factories did not agree to negotiations soon.

“We just suspend it [the strikes] for a time,” said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions. “If there is no…appropriate solution for the workers, there will be a declaration for [another] mass strike, a peaceful mass strike.”

The strikes had forced many of the country’s 500-plus garment factories to shut down or scale back production for several days and came to a violent end on January 3 when military police shot into crowds of protesters outside a Phnom Penh factory, killing five and wounding dozens.

Eight unions Wednesday put out a statement calling for wage negotiations to resume and defended their pay demand at a press conference in Phnom Penh amid the government’s refusal to push the minimum wage—now set at $80 a month—past $100.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Garment Workers Continue Striking Over Unpaid Wages:

Workers at two factories continued striking Wednesday to demand that their employers pay them half their wages for the days they spent on strike during mass garment sector demonstrations earlier this month.

About 3,000 workers from Quint Major Industrial garment factory in Kandal province stayed away from work and instead held a protest march down National Road 4 to demand that they receive at least half pay for the days they spent striking.

The workers had marched about half a kilometer from the factory toward the local district office before management told them they were willing to negotiate, said Seang Rithy, head of the Cambodian Labor Solidarity Union Federation.

“Our workers demand 50 percent for the days on strike, but the company has not yet responded to our request and they will give an answer [today],” he said. “All the workers pledge not to return if the company does not pay them 50 percent for the days on strike.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Despite illness, no bail for labour activist:

Labour activist Vorn Pov, who is facing serious health issues while being held in pre-trial detention in Kampong Cham’s Correctional Centre 3 prison, has been denied bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

His NGO-provided lawyer, San Sokunthear, immediately filed an appeal against the bail denial yesterday, saying that her client’s health is deteriorating.
“He was already sick, but since he was beaten, his illness has become more serious.”
Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), was arrested along with 22 factory workers and activists during a two-day police crackdown on protesting garment workers earlier this month.
The other 22 detainees will apply for bail today, according to lawyers.
read more.
PPP new

* Dead mourned: Community, monks hold ceremony:

Monks, Boeung Kak villagers, union representatives and the families of victims shot dead during clashes between striking garment workers and military police on January 3 yesterday held a ritual for those killed.

Som Thai, 50, the mother of 26-year-old victim Sam Ravy said she was furious that authorities had taken no responsibility for shooting her son, a Chinese translator at the Yuming Da garment factory.

Khat Somneang, the wife of victim Kem Phalleap, 26, said she had warned her husband not to protest due to the possibility of violence.

“A day before the incident, my husband called and told me that workers in his factory were protesting for $160 per month and he had also joined them since it was for the benefit of all workers. I [said] not to stand out too much.… He told me that police might not use their weapons again. But in the end, they shot him dead, leaving me and our child,” she said.
to read.
PPP new

* Despite Violence, Cambodian Workers Vow To Continue Their Fight:

Though Cambodia’s days of colonialization, war and genocide may be over, the country is still wrestling with political turmoil.

At the start of the new year, when workers massed in Phnom Penh to demand a fair minimum wage, the government responded with a spray of bullets.

A major garment worker strike in December capped a recent groundswell of protest in the country’s capital. After deeming insufficient the government’s proposed hike of the minimum wage to $95, labor leaders aligned with the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to shutter factories and bring large crowds into the streets, concluding a year of labor agitation that saw more than 130 strikes.

Newly reelected Prime Minister Hun Sen—a former Khmer Rouge official whose legitimacy has been questioned amid accusations of rigging last summer’s election—took the protests as an opportunity to suppress both the pro-democracy and labor movements with one fierce blow. On January 3, police responded to protesters’ bottles and petrol bombs with live ammunition, killing five and injuring dozens. More than twenty were detained, and some are reportedly still being held incommunicado.
read more.
INTHESETIMES

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20140102 LICADHO

* One Garment Strike Ends, Two Begin, Over Missing Pay:

Garment workers at a Kandal province factory ended their most recent strike Thursday after management agreed to pay out part of their wages for the days they were absent during a previous strike, while workers at a Phnom Penh factory went back on strike because their employers would not agree to give them strike pay.

About 3,000 employees of Kandal’s Quint Major Industrial went on strike this week to demand that the owners pay them at least half their wages for the days in December they had joined nationwide strikes demanding a higher minimum wage for the entire garment sector.

They ended their latest strike Thursday after the factory agreed to pay them 30 percent for the days they were on strike, said Seang Rithy, head of the Cambodian Labor Solidarity Union Federation.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Retail associations urge talks:

Six major retail, footwear and garment industry associations whose members account for over 90 per cent of garment imports in the US and Canada have called on the Cambodian government, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and unions to resume wage negotiations.

The open letter, dated January 15, is addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen, GMAC general secretary Ken Loo and five of the unions at the centre of the ongoing dispute over the minimum monthly garment salary.

“Our industry is committed to ensuring that all the products that they produce, source and sell are manufactured under lawful and humane conditions,” the letter stated. In addition to urging an immediate resumption of talks, the signatories requested for the creation of a regularly-scheduled wage review mechanism, and call on those involved to “end all violence.”

“These actions will not only promote both the short and long-term health and stability of the Cambodian garment and footwear industries, but these actions will also enable the Cambodian garment and footwear industry to maintain the strong relationships it has with our member companies,” the letter goes on to say.
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PPP new

* Cambodia versus ‘cheap China’:

In this week’s interview, Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, weighs in on the minimum wage debate in Cambodia and discusses the impact that China’s increasing costs will have on the manufacturing industry here, as investors look beyond the world’s second-largest economy.

As the title of your book, The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends that Will Disrupt the World, makes clear, China is no longer the highly desired manufacturing location it once was. What happened?
Chinese factory salaries have gone up 15 to 20 per cent annually for the past five years. High salaries, combined with soaring rents and an ageing population, have squeezed margins for manufacturers, forcing them to relocate to lower cost countries like Cambodia, Indonesia or internally within China to provinces such as Sichuan. Nike, for instance, gets 37 per cent of its products from Vietnam versus 35 per cent from China.

What does such a shift mean for the region?
There are great opportunities for Cambodia and ASEAN in general to grab market share in the manufacturing sector, especially in light industry. Many apparel and footwear companies are looking to relocate to ASEAN as long as they can find the proper infrastructure and stable government policies. Thailand is attracting more auto sector investment, Bali and other resort areas will benefit from more outbound Chinese tourism.
read more.
PPP new

* Shooting probe urged:

UN rights envoy Surya Subedi wrapped up his six-day fact-finding mission to Cambodia yesterday by calling for a thorough investigation into security forces’ role in the deadly crackdown on garment workers early this month.

He also offered to act as a mediator between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and said he hoped to see Cambodians heading to the polls after his recommendations were implemented.

“I understand that only alleged protesters and not security forces are being investigated,” he said at an afternoon press conference. “I strongly recommend that an investigation be undertaken on who issued and who carried out the order to shoot; if no such order was given, the individuals who fired their weapons must be brought to justice.”
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PPP new

* Ceremony Held for Workers Killed at Veng Sreng:

Dissident monks and political activists hosted a ceremony Thursday for the protesting garment workers killed by military police during their repression of stone-throwing demonstrators on Veng Sreng Street two weeks ago.

The hourlong ceremony, held at the home of housing rights activist Tep Vanny in the Boeng Kak community, started at 9:30 a.m. with a procession of about 50 people who presented offerings of small sums of money, water, rice and noodles to some 200 monks at a shrine set up in honor of the five slain protesters, and the more than 40 other workers wounded during the January 3 demonstration.

After a short service by the monks, members of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice (IMNSJ), people lit incense and toured a memorial inside Ms. Vanny’s house where pictures of four people confirmed killed by local rights group Licadho during the Veng Sreng shootings were displayed.
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Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Pressure mounts for the release of 23 detainees in deadly clashes:

Some 50 representatives from Boeung Kok, a long-disputed property development site in Phnom Penh, rallied Friday in front of the US Embassy to seek the release of 23 people arrested in violent clashes earlier this month.

“On January 2, workers protested at Yakjin factory to demand wage increase, so the human right defenders went to the site to monitor and coordinate the protest, but later the soldiers led by Chab Pheakdey suppressed the workers and human right defenders, and arrested 23 people,” said a petition presented to William E. Todd, the US Ambassador to Cambodia.

The protesters sought intervention from the US Embassy to ask the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to release and drop charges against the arrestees including Vorn Pov, Theng Savoeun, and Chan Puthisak.
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CAMHERALD

* Lawyers Submit Bail Requests for Imprisoned Protesters:

Ten lawyers representing 22 of the 23 striking workers, union officials and political activists imprisoned at a maximum-security prison in Kompong Cham province since their arrests at two protests in Phnom Penh earlier this month submitted bail requests for their clients Thursday, one of the lawyers said.

The requests for the prisoners, detained in the notorious Correctional Center 3 (CC3), were submitted to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where the 23 have been charged with intentional violence and property destruction, said Ham Surith, a Community Legal Education Center lawyer.

Vorn Pao, a prominent union leader, was not included in the requests as his application for bail was rejected last week.

“We have called on the court to release the 22 people, since they are all both workers and breadwinners. Their families rely on them,” Mr. Surith said. “The 22 people can go live with their families, and if the court wants to call on them to appear at the court, they will show up as requested.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* UN Envoy Condemns Shooting of Striking Garment Workers:

U.N. human rights envoy Surya Subedi on Thursday condemned the State’s recent use of lethal force against protesters and called for an independent investigation into the incident earlier this month when military police shot dead five striking garment workers and wounded more than 40.

At a press conference at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Phnom Penh to wrap up his 10th mission to Cambodia, Mr. Subedi said he had initially welcomed large-scale demonstrations at the end of 2013 as “a sign of maturing democracy in Cambodia.”

However, he said, the government’s deadly response to garment strikes in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on January 3, during which five people were killed, marked “a worrying change from a tolerant to a repressive response of the government to public protests.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* UN urges Cambodia’s rival leaders to talk:

A United Nations envoy says country stands at a ‘crossroads’ after a bloody break-up of protests in December.

A UN envoy has urged Cambodia’s political leader to return to the negotiating table, saying the country stand at “a crucial crossroads” following a bloody crackdown by security forces on street protests.

Surya Subedi, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Cambodia, said on Thursday politicians on both sides of the kingdom’s deep political divide should “embrace change”.
“It is imperative for the leaders to overcome the mistrust and immediately return to the negotiating table without further delay,” he told reporters during a fact-finding visit to the country.

He urged the government to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the protest crackdown, saying the measures taken did not seem to respect international laws.
read more.
aljazeera

* Cambodia’s Human Rights in focus: Full text of UN envoy:

The UN envoy concluded his six-day visit to Cambodia producing a concrete report, which reflects both the positive and negative aspects of human rights situation in the Kingdom.

As for the post-election political impasse, Prof. Surya P. Subedi, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, recommended for political reconciliation between the two main parties, which won the 2013 elections.

Below is the full text of his report.

During the mission, I met with Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Ministers Sok An and Hor Namhong, Senior Minister and President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee Om Yengtieng, Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng, Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana, Secretary of State of Ministry of Interior Prom Sokha and Governor of Phnom Penh Pa Socheat Vong.
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CAMHERALD

* Government bans march to mark death of union leader:

Phnom Penh Authority didn’t allow Chea Mony, president of Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia (FTUWC), to march along the street to mark 10th anniversary of the death of his broter , Chea Vichea.

The authority, however, allowed union leader Chea Mony and his members to rally and place flowers at Chea Vichea’s statute which is located near Wat Langka.

“Authority announced that FTUWC led by Chea Mony can gather on January 22 to commemorate the death of Chea Vichea by placing the flowers at the statute as did every year,” said Man Senghak, FTUWC representative who attended the meeting today with the authority.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* BetterFactories Media updates 10-17January 2014, Unions warn of more strikes unless wage talks resume:

* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2014-01-10 Despite bail, 15 years old still in jail
2014-01-10 Garment sector economics
2014-01-13 A family’s anguish
2014-01-13 Another dark day in our history
2014-01-13 Labour rallies move overseas
2014-01-14 Confidence needed to keep jobs
2014-01-14 NGOs push for more international pressure
2014-01-14 Textile work returns to Spain
2014-01-15 No union for workers in food biz
2014-01-15 Questioning draws rally
2014-01-15 Staffers walk at tech NGO
2014-01-15 Wages on par with regional standard PM
2014-01-16 Despite illness, no bail for Pov
2014-01-16 Envoy, PM talk deadlock
2014-01-16 Strike action still on table, unions say
2014-01-17 Cambodia versus ‘Cheap China’
2014-01-17 Man healed, held against will
2014-01-17 Manhattan workers on strike again
2014-01-17 Retail associations urge talks
2014-01-17 Shooting probe urged

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-01-11-12 Living hand to mouth
2014-01-10 100 factories suing unions behind strike
2014-01-10 Families of killed and missing protesters compile complaints
2014-01-10 Lawyers prevented from seeing protest detainees at CC3
2014-01-10 Over $1,500 raised for paralyzed protester
2014-01-11-12 Committees to research minimum wages study, ‘Study Killings’
2014-01-11-12 Groups demand a mandatory minimum wage threaten protest
2014-01-13 Cambodians and Koreans join protest in Seoul
2014-01-13 CNRP reaffirms commitment to nonviolence
2014-01-13 Factory sets bar for workers’ rights in Dominican Republic
2014-01-13 Relatives call on government to release 23 detainees
2014-01-13 Unions want government, factories to resume wage talks
2014-01-14 Free Trade Union reports overall jump in labour strikes in 2013
2014-01-14 Government urged to ease pressure on unions
2014-01-14 Group defies government ban to demand detainee’s release
2014-01-14 Li and Fung to start factory safety consulting unit
2014-01-14 Opposition CNRP leaders to face court today
2014-01-15 Garment workers go back on strike over unpaid wages
2014-01-15 Hun Sen says he’s here to stay; higher wages must wait
2014-01-15 Supporters rally as court questions CNRP leaders
2014-01-16 Garment workers continue striking over unpaid wages
2014-01-16 Subedi calls for accountability in meeting with Hun Sen
2014-01-16 Unions warn of more strikes unless wage talks resume
2014-01-16 US support to Cambodian military under scrutiny
2014-01-17 Ceremony held for workers killed at Veng Sreng
2014-01-17 Food vendors feel the bite of soaring inflation
2014-01-17 Lawyers submit bail requests for imprisoned protesters
2014-01-17 UN envoy condemns shooting of striking garment workers
2014-01-17 US passes bill to suspend some aid to Cambodia

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

$160

20140118-19

* What’s the Price of Workers’ Lives in Cambodia?:

By now you’ve heard that military police in Cambodia killed five garment workers demanding a living wage of $160 per month in the early days of 2014, but only some of this is true.

Here’s a slightly more accurate version: On Tuesday, December 24, during a period of nationwide political unrest, the Cambodian government announced a raise of $15 to garment workers’ monthly minimum wage of $80, for a new total of $95 per month, to start in April, 2014. Workers responded the next day by walking off jobs and demanding the current wage be doubled, for a new monthly wage of $160.

The next few days saw the largest demonstrations in the country’s history. Tens of thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – gathered. Protesters were holding demonstrations all over the city: stopping work, blocking roads, holding rallies. The mood of these events was primarily jubilant, although there was a dark side. Numbers of demonstrators continued to swell.
read more.
truthout

* Diplomats, Donors Lobbied to Help Free Jailed Protesters:

Challenging the ban on demonstrations in Phnom Penh, activists rallied Friday at the U.S. Embassy, the Japanese Embassy, the Australian Embassy and the German Embassy before stopping for lunch and rallying again, in the afternoon, at the British Embassy, the European Union and World Bank offices, then marching, finally, to the South Korean Embassy to lobby for the release of protesters jailed earlier this month.

The peaceful, multi-embassy protest was organized by the well-known Boeng Kak housing rights activists, who submitted petitions at each diplomatic compound seeking international pressure to gain the release of 23 people rounded up by paratroopers and military police during the violent and lethal suppression of strike demonstrations in Phnom Penh on January 2 and 3.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia: Urging garment manufacturers to respect workers’ rights:

In a joint open letter sent today, FIDH and its member organisations in Cambodia, LICADHO and ADHOC, call on the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) to refrain from supporting in any way violent repression or retaliatory measures against strking workers and to meaningfully address workers’ demands.

Joint open letter
To: Mr. Van Sou Ieng
Chairman
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC)

cc.
Samdach Akak Moha Sena Padey Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia
H.E. Sun Chanthol, Senior Minister, Minister for Commerce
H.E. Ith Sam Heng, Minister for Labour and Vocational Training

Subject: Urging garment manufacturers to respect workers’ rights

Dear Mr. Van Sou Ieng,

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO), with 178 national human rights member organizations throughout the world. Our primary and mutual goal is to promote respect for the rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
read more.
fidh

* One more association leader arrested during prayer calling for release of 23 detained leaders & workers:

A gathering this afternoon calling for the release of the 23 workers and rights defenders arrested earlier this month, and for an increase in the minimum wage, has ended with the arrest of Sokchhun Oeung, Vice President of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA). Vorn Pao, President of IDEA, was among the 23 rights defenders and workers arrested earlier in the month.

At 4pm, before the gathering began, media and human rights observers waiting at Wat Ounalom for the main group to arrive were forced out of the grounds by about 50 security guards and civilians wearing black motorcycle helmets.
The group moved to Preah Ong Dongkau spirit house in front of the Royal Palace, closely followed by the guards and civilians. At about 5pm, there were multiple standoffs which involved the guards intimidating and pushing demonstrators for over an hour.
read more.
licadho

* CCHR releases a Policy Brief on the garment industry in Cambodia outlining the current state of human rights in the industry and offering recommendations for reform:

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) releases today – 19 January 2014 – a Policy Brief on the Garment Industry in the Kingdom of Cambodia (“Cambodia”). In light of growing human rights concerns with regards to the garment industry, the Policy Brief collates data gathered by CCHR’s researchers and offers concrete policy and legislative recommendations for reforms to all stakeholders, which would substantially improve the situation.

Despite a relatively protective legal and policy framework and several national-level policies, labor rights continue to be violated with alarming frequency throughout the Cambodian garment industry.
The Cambodian garment industry is now plagued with a myriad of human rights concerns. 2014 has already seen widespread protests by garment workers demanding a fair wage, which were met with extreme police violence that resulted in five deaths and dozens of injuries.

Efforts to silence garment workers did not stop with the use of force but has continued with union members fired as a punishment for striking.
The Policy Brief provides a background to the Cambodian garment industry, as well as an overview of the human rights concerns related to the garment industry in Cambodia, including workplace conditions, wages and living conditions, contracts and job security, reproductive and maternal health, gender-based
violence and freedom of association. Furthermore, it reviews the domestic and international legal framework related to labor and collective bargaining rights.
read more.
CCHR

* Treating garment workers in Cambodia as terrorists:

In the Canadia Industrial Park, factories are mostly back in operation, bustling to fulfill orders for major Western labels. There are few signs of the brutal crackdown that recently afflicted this complex on the Cambodian capital’s southern outskirts.

Two weeks ago, the Cambodian military wielded guns and steel pipes to break up strikes by garment workers, who oppose the country’s new $95 monthly minimum wage. Five demonstrators died and dozens were injured.

Tensions remain high. The Cambodian government has banned protests indefinitely. More than 100 factory owners have gone on the offensive, filing lawsuits against the labor unions and claiming enormous losses and property damage.
read more.
globalpost

* Despite Violence, Cambodian Workers Vow To Continue Their Fight:

Though Cambodia’s days of colonialization, war and genocide may be over, the country is still wrestling with political turmoil.

At the start of the new year, when workers massed in Phnom Penh to demand a fair minimum wage, the government responded with a spray of bullets.

A major garment worker strike in December capped a recent groundswell of protest in the country’s capital. After deeming insufficient the government’s proposed hike of the minimum wage to $95, labor leaders aligned with the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to shutter factories and bring large crowds into the streets, concluding a year of labor agitation that saw more than 130 strikes.
read more.
huffpost

$160

20140120

* Brands call for trade union law:

International clothing brands and union groups presented a united front on Friday, sending a letter signed by 30 groups to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office.

The letter asks the Cambodian government to address the issues surrounding the rights of 23 people detained since deadly garment worker demonstrations on January 2 and 3 and the violation of citizens’ freedom of association. It also asks the government to introduce a trade union law consistent with International Labour Organization standards, begin a new minimum wage-setting process for the garment industry and meet with signatories of the letter on February 3.

“They deserve praise,” Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua said yesterday. “This is the strongest the brands and the global unions have come together.”

Signatories to the letter include Adidas, American Eagle Outfitters, Bonmarche, C&A Europe, Debenhams, Esprit, Fifth and Pacific Companies, Gap, H&M, Inditex, IndustriALL Global Union, the International Trade Union Confederation, Levi Strauss & Co, Lululemon Athletica, Migros, N Brown Group, New Balance, New Look, Nike, Orsay, Primark, Puma, PVH, Tchibo, Tesco, The Jones Group, The Walt Disney Company, Under Armour, UNI Global Union and Walmart.

The letter also states the signatory groups’ strong support of the United Nations’ request for Cambodia to launch a “prompt and thorough” investigation into crackdowns on demonstrations on January 2 and 3 that left at least four dead, dozens injured and 23 detained.
read more. & read more.
PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Global unions and 30 major brands call on Cambodian government to investigate deadly violence:

IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union, and the ITUC have joined forces with 30 global brands to urge the Cambodian government to investigate the recent use of deadly force against striking garment workers.

IndustriALL and UNI, whose joint efforts resulted in the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, say they are encouraged that brands are taking responsibility for their production and are demanding a change from the Cambodian government.

The letter, dated Friday, urged the government to launch a new process to set minimum wages and to respect the rights of workers and trade unions. The brands also asked for a meeting with Mr. Hun Sen himself.
The group expressed its concern at the killing and wounding of workers and bystanders by security forces on 2 and 3 January, when peaceful demonstrations were taking place over an increase in the minimum wage.
read more. & to read. & read more.
Home UNI Global Union

* Union leader released:

Phnom Penh Municipal Police this morning released a union leader they scooped off the street yesterday evening for allegedly leading a protest despite a ban on public demonstrations.

Sok Chhun Oeung, acting president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), left the police station at about 10am, after signing a contract promising he would not incite or participate in demonstrations and report to police any illegal activity of which he becomes aware, Oeung told the Post this morning.

“The authorities who arrested me violated the constitutional law of Cambodia,” Oeung said in a phone interview. “This action is a violation of human rights, as well.”

Oeung’s arrest at about 5:30pm yesterday occurred as IDEA members attempted to hold a vigil for 23 people – including IDEA’s president, Vorn Pov – who were arrested in demonstrations supporting a garment worker strike on January 2 and 3. Oeung, IDEA’s vice president, has served as acting president since Pov’s arrest.
read more. & read more.
PPP new licadho

* Union Leader Grabbed Off Street After Peaceful Protest:

Riot police and security guards arrested a union leader for organizing a small rally on Phnom Penh’s busy riverside Sunday afternoon to demand the release of a fellow union leader beaten and arrested by police at a protest earlier this month.

The arrest of Sok Chhun Oeung, vice president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), brings to 24 the number of protesters detained by authorities in Phnom Penh since IDEA president Vorn Pao and nine others were beaten and arrested on January 2 by paratroopers. Another 13 people were arrested the next day, when police also shot dead five garment workers protesting for higher wages.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Rally for 23 sees arrest tally grow:

Riot police arrested an NGO leader near the Royal Palace on Phnom Penh’s Riverside yesterday in an apparent bid to enforce an ongoing ban on public gatherings.

As security guards pushed and scuffled with bystanders and members of several NGOs during an attempt to hold a vigil for 23 people in custody after being arrested at protests supporting a garment worker strike on January 2 and 3, two pick-up trucks full of riot police stopped at about 5:30pm.

Police in the back hopped out of one of the trucks and shoved their way towards Sok Chhun Oeung, who has served as acting president of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) since the NGO’s president, Vorn Pov, was arrested during a demonstration at the Yakjin garment factory on January 2.

“I think their primary reason [for the arrest] is complete intolerance of gatherings,” Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said. “[Demonstrators] did nothing except sing and ask for the release of the 23 people.”
read & see more. & read more.
PPP new CAMHERALD

$160

20140121

* Marchers to flout ban on protests:

Hundreds of civil society representatives, garment workers and community groups are expected to take to the streets this morning to deliver petitions to foreign embassies calling on the government to release the 23 people arrested during garment worker strikes earlier this month and find justice for those injured and killed in the violence.

While organisers insist their actions do not constitute a march, the three-day event involving 19 embassies comes two days after the government’s ban on public assembly and demonstrations was tested by a significantly smaller event, with riot police disrupting a vigil for the 23 in custody and making one arrest near the Royal Palace on Sunday.
A military police spokesman yesterday said the group would be “dispersed” if it caused traffic jams or disrupted social order.

Petitions signed by 181 local and regional civil society organisations are to be hand-delivered to the US, UK, French, German and Japanese embassies from 8am this morning, with seven more embassies scheduled for Wednesday and another seven, plus UN offices, for Thursday.

“We strongly condemn the use of brutally excessive force, arbitrary arrests, killings and inhumane treatment by the Cambodian authorities,” a joint statement released yesterday by the civil society groups says.
“We appeal to the international community to take action on this inhumane treatment on Cambodian citizens.”
read more.
PPP new

* 11 Activists Arrested While Petitioning US, French Embassies:

District security guards this morning arrested 11 political activists taking part in a protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh against the imprisonment of 23 protesters who were beaten and arrested earlier this month.

The protesters, including union leader Rong Chhun and prominent Boeng Kak community activist Tep Vanny, had gathered in front of the embassy at 8:15 a.m. in defiance of a recent ban on public assembly put in place after a wave of violent suppression initiated by the CPP government at the beginning of the year.
At 8:30 a.m., the security guards, wearing full-faced black helmets, entered the crowd, surrounded Ms. Vanny and pulled her into a nearby unmarked white van before driving away.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

Eleven more human rights defenders detained:

Eleven people have been detained following a gathering outside the US embassy in Phnom Penh this morning to deliver a petition signed by 182 groups calling for the release of the 23 jailed during violent crackdowns earlier this month.

The arrested people are: Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), Boeung Kak lake activists Tep Vanny, Yorm Bopha, Song Sreyleap, Pan Chunreth, Bov Sorphea, Erm Sreytouch, and Ngoun Kimlang, as well as Choung Sopheap, activist from Thmor Kaul airport-area community, Long Kim Heang, staff member of Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), and Cheang Thida, activist of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU).

Additionally, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court just informed NGO lawyers that the 22 of the 23 arrested earlier this month and detained in CC3 have been refused bail release. The Phnom Penh Appeal Court deadline for announcing the bail decision for Vorn Pao, president of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), is February 3, 2014.
to read.
licadho

* 11 more arrested:

Eleven rights activists were detained by Phnom Penh Municipal security forces this morning after they marched to the US Embassy to deliver a petition calling for the release of 23 people jailed during the brutal crackdown earlier this month.

The arrested activists, including Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, and Boeung Kak lake activists Tep Vanny and Yorm Bopha, were detained by district security forces wearing black helmets after delivering the petition.

Six people were detained outside the US Embassy and five more, including Chhun, were taken away about 10 minutes later in a police van on their way to the French Embassy.
read more.
PPP new

* Eleven rights defenders detained this morning are released:

The eleven human rights defenders detained this morning during an embassy march to petition diplomatic intervention to release the 23 protesters held in CC3 have been released from the Phnom Penh municipal police station.

They were released without charge, but only after signing a letter promising not to participate in future demonstrations.
to read.
licadho

* The human right to a living wage is far from being won in Cambodia:

I was deeply saddened to read the article by Anne Elizabeth Moore titled “What’s the Price of Workers’ Lives in Cambodia?” published on January 17 in the US-based Truth-out.org website.

This story contained an outrageous attack on the Cambodian garment workers demonstration over the minimum wage by a well-known Cambodian blogger, academic and human rights activist Sopheap Chak.
I am used to hearing such arguments from employers as a way to escape from their responsibility to pay workers a decent wage, but I did not expect this from an experienced human rights activist.

Chak, program director for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), claimed she has been watching the recent events closely, but disparaged the garment workers’ campaign for a US$160 a month minimum wage.

“You have to come up with the data, come up with a reason why $160 now,” she said in an interview for the article which presented the strike as not really being “about the struggle for living wages in the garment factories” but the workers’ “bodies put to service toward a larger political agenda” of the opposition politician Sam Rainsy’s “bid for power”.
read more.
GREENLEFTau

* Union Leader Released; ‘Free the 23’ Protests To Continue:

Phnom Penh police released union leader Sok Chhun Oeung from custody Monday, a day after dragging him off the street at a peaceful protest he had organized along Phnom Penh’s riverside against the detention of 23 men still in jail for participating in demonstrations over garment factory wages earlier this month.

Remaining defiant on his release, Mr. Chhun Oeung joined human rights groups in denouncing his arrest as illegal and said his union for motorcycle taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, known as the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), would organize an even bigger rally soon in spite of a standing government ban on public gatherings.
read more. & read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo PPP new

* Brain Surgery for Teenager Beaten on Veng Sreng:

Thet Theng has lost the use of his arm.

For 18 days, his mother, a constant at his bedside in the Intensive Care Unit of the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh, has repeated the same process: lifting her son’s right arm into the air and hoping that he can muster the strength to keep it up there.

On Monday, like every day he has spent in the hospital, Theng’s lame arm immediately flopped to his side. Military police brutally beat the 18-year-old garment worker with truncheons while he was attending a protest for higher wages on January 3 on Veng Sreng Street.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

$160

05:33:56 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

$160 We Need

Garment workers demanding $160 minimum wage

$160

30131223

05:33:56 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

* No End in Sight for Svay Rieng SEZ Strikes:

A union official at the center of a strike that started last Monday and involves an estimated 30,000 workers from two special economic zones (SEZs) in Svay Rieng province said Sunday that he has no control over the strikers, and does not know when or if they will return to work.

The 36 factories involved in the strike remained shut and workers remained at home on Friday and over the weekend in Bavet City’s Manhattan and Tai Seng Bavet SEZs, said Chheng Chhoan, secretary-general of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

“I’m not sure if they’ll come back to work or not. I’ve tried to explain to those workers that, on the minimum wage topic, a solution might not be found now,” he said.
“I explained to them all that if they do not come back to work, there will be no good results, but they don’t listen to me. Most just say they will not come back to work unless their demands are met with success.”

The strikers have said they will continue protesting until their minimum monthly wage is increased to $154.
The Labor Advisory Council (LAC) is set to meet on Tuesday to decide on proposals to increase the minimum wage. The Council of Ministers on Friday decided to recommend incremental yearly minimum wage increases to bring it to $160 by 2018.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Unionist firings inspire walkout:

About 1,000 workers at a Kandal province garment factory walked off the job on Saturday after management there fired eight employees who attempted to start a new union.

Management at Sixplus Industry Co, Ltd originally sacked 13 union activists on Friday afternoon, but later that evening said they would allow five of them back to work, said Mai Bun Hai, president of the new Independent Union for Worker Solidarity.

“They told me that they will allow us to create the union inside the company if we obey their wishes, but I declined and they sacked us immediately,” Bun Hai said yesterday.

Sixplus’ is now home to two unions: the Free Trade Union and the Labour of Khmer Children Union. Nearly 800 employees there have thumb-printed a petition demanding the reinstatement of the eight fired unionists, Bun Hai said.
The dismissals are a clear violation of Cambodia’s labour law, said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center.
Officials from Sixplus could not be reached for comment.
read more.
PPP new

* Sam Rainsy protests with workers in Bavet:

Opposition party leader Sam Rainsy joined a rally on Monday, initiated by garment factory employees in the town of Bavet.

“I’m protesting with workers in the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in the town of Bavet, Svay Rieng province, to demand a raise in salary, ” he posted on his Facebook page.
During the rally, Sam Rainsy, urged protesting garment employees not to go to work unless they receive $160 per month.
Around 28,000 workers from the Manhattan Special Economic Zone as well as Tai Seng I and Tai Seng II have been on strike since December 17.
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

 20131224

* Nationwide protest for raise in pay may occur: union leader:

 A prominent union leader on Tuesday announced that factory employees will rally throughout the country to demand minimum wage be raised to $160 per month in 2014.

Chea Mony, President of Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia (FTUWC), made his announcement after the Ministry of Labor and Vocation Training announced their results of the wage talks earlier today.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Workers protest after wage talk results:

Hundreds of garment factory employees on Tuesday gathered in front of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training protesting the results of the wage talks.

The protesters surrounded and blocked the gates of the ministry with union leaders, representatives from the government and factories still inside.

Instead of achieving the $154 per month raise in wages the factory employees asked for, representatives from government, garment factories and labor unions decided to raise minimum wage from the current $80 to $95 in 2014, $110 in 2015, $126 in 2016, $143 in 2017 and $160 in 2018.

“This result was fruitful even though it doesn’t meet all of the demands requested by the workers,” said Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng after the talks.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Keep striking for $160, Rainsy urges:

Ahead of today’s Ministry of Labour announcement of a minimum wage increase for Cambodia’s apparel sector, opposition leader Sam Rainsy yesterday urged striking workers in Svay Rieng province to hold out until their monthly salary is raised to $160.

“[Garment] workers should not return to work until the government raises their minimum wage to $160,” Rainsy said in Bavet town to thousands of workers from Svay Rieng’s Manhattan and Tay Seng special economic zones. “We have to be together, I support all of you until you reach success, and I’ll be with you and protect you all.”
read more.  & read more.
PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Turmoil marks year in labour:

When unions and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) signed a memorandum of understanding in October last year, both sides were confident strikes in the Kingdom’s biggest export sector could be kept to a minimum.

“I believe strikes will be reduced, and we will solve our issues through legislative procedures,” Cambodian Labour Union Federation president Som Aun said at the time.
But despite intentions – and a $14 increase to the minimum wage for garment workers in May – 2013 has seen strikes in record numbers.
Not counting December, GMAC has recorded 131 strikes this year, the most since it began collecting data in 2003, and up from 34 in 2011, when a previous MoU was in place.
During strikes this year, a bystander has been shot dead by police, two women have miscarried after clashes with authorities, unionists have been jailed for months and factories have lost millions of dollars.

Building tensions
From the outset, 2013 shaped as a year of unrest in the Kingdom’s garment sector, which produces more than 85 per cent of total exports.
(…)
Low wages
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said the majority of strikes this year occurred due to low wages.
“Most of them happen because the discussions about increasing wages just take too long and often do not reach a suitable resolution,” he said.
As for the MoU, Mony said both employers and workers rarely abided by it.
“It’s good if both parties respect it, but [right now], the MoU has no effect on workers and employers.”
Dave Welsh, country manager for labour-rights group Solidarity Center, said he was still a supporter of the MoU.
read more.
PPP new

$160

20131225

* Home for the holidays:

Employees at hundreds of garment factories walked off the job yesterday after five labour unions called for a nationwide strike in the wake of the Ministry of Labour’s decision to raise the sector’s minimum wage by $15 next year, rather than the $80 increase they desired.

Yesterday morning, Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng announced that the monthly minimum wage for employees at garment and shoe factories – which now stands at $80, including a $5 health bonus – will rise to $95 in April.
Wages will climb another $15 in 2015, then $16 in 2016 and $17 in both 2017 and 2018, reaching a total of $160 by 2018.

The news was greeted with consternation by independent unions.

“We will go on strike because what we got is so much less than what we demanded,” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU). “Workers must demand more because they still earn low wages.”

In a joint statement released hours after the ministry’s decision, C.CAWDU, the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC), the Cambodia Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) and the Free Trade Union (FTU) declared more than 200,000 union workers at 300 factories will strike until the government agrees to set the minimum wage at $160.
read more.
PPP new

* Monthly Wage Increased to $95, Unions Vow to Strike:

The government announced Tuesday that the minimum wage in the garment sector will be raised to $95 in April, a 19 percent increase over the current $80 monthly wage, as the first step in a five-year plan to raise the minimum wage to $160 by 2018.

Following the decision, which fell well short of unions’ demands for a 100 percent increase in the minimum wage next year, small-scale strikes and protests broke out across the country, while leaders of the country’s independent and opposition-aligned unions said they would organize nationwide strikes to force further increases.

Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng told reporters following the meeting of the Labor Advisory Council, the multiparty body that approves wage changes, that the government had given equal consideration to the demands of workers and factory owners.
“We wanted to raise wages more than this, but we couldn’t because raising the minimum wage depends on many factors, including living standards, production and competition to attract investors from neighboring countries,” Mr. Sam Heng said.

Despite the increase, wages in Cambodia remain among the lowest amid major garment-producing countries. Wages in China, Vietnam and Indonesia have increased sharply in recent years. Earlier this month, Bangladesh raised its minimum wage by 77 percent to $68.
(….)
Ath Thorn, CCAWDU’s president, who was one of the two union leaders who voted against the government’s proposal, said that his unions would not heed the labor minister’s warning not to protest.
“We will issue an announcement to reject the wage raise and we will prepare to hold a mass demonstration across the country to demand a higher wage raise,” Mr. Thorn said.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union (FTU), said that his members had already started striking over the decision, and predicted that union leaders would not be able to prevent more strikes in the coming days.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* CNRP sees allies in strikers:

Amid workers walking off the job in protest over the minimum garment wage, opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha last night threw their support behind widespread strikes.

On the 10th day of opposition demonstrations in the capital calling for Prime Minister Hun Sen to either resign or call a snap election, Rainsy and Sokha said that if garment workers strike en masse throughout the country today – as some unions have already begun to do – the climate will benefit the CNRP.

“From tomorrow,” Rainsy said at Freedom Park last night, “the situation for garment workers is going to change – and so is the political situation.
read more.
PPP new

* Factory workers rally alongside opposition at Freedom Park:

Hundreds of footwear and garment factory employees rallied alongside the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) on Wednesday at Freedom Park to demand the country’s minimum wage rise to $160 per month.  

The factory workers joined in the opposition’s protest a day after the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training announced that wages will only be increased from $80 to $95 per month in April 2014.

The talks held yesterday between representatives from the government, factories and unions agreed to raise minimum wage for footwear and garment factory employees from $80 to $95 in 2014, $110 in 2015, $126 in 2016, $143 in 2017 and $160 in 2018.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Rainsy mobilizing workers to protest in Bavet:

Sam Rainsy, head of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), is in Svay Rieng on Wednesday to gather footwear and garment factory employees from the area to join in wage rally held in the town of Bavet.

Speaking to a crowd of workers, he announced that he will provide transportation for all factory workers in Svay Rieng to join in the Bavet rally.

“This is the time for all workers throughout the country to unite and rally to demand $160 per month,” he said.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Protest against new wage of $95 is illegal: Labor Ministry:

The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training on Wednesday said that any activities made by the  unions against the minimum wage of $95, agreed upon by the Labor Council, are against the law.

After the wage talks yesterday, the Labor Council agreed to raise the salaries of footwear and garment factory workers from the current $80 to $95 in 2014, $110 in 2015, $126 in 2016, $143 in 2017 and $160 in 2018.

The ministry said that the raise showed the efforts of the Cambodian government, employers and unions in promoting the livelihoods of Cambodian workers, while not negatively affecting the factories, and investments in Cambodia, according to a ministry statement.

“Any unions that hold protests against the decision made by the Labor Council Committee is committing an illegal act, affecting democratic procedure and themselves,” said the statement.
“The unions holding the protests must take full responsibility for their action before the law, and any consequences resulting from the protest incitement.”
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

 20131226

* Strike picks up steam:

20131226 PPP 2-Garment-Strike
Garment workers strike outside the Chu Hsing factory to demand a higher minimum wage yesterday in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district.
Photo by Vireak Mai

A nationwide garment factory strike began to take shape yesterday, as workers took to the streets a day after the Ministry of Labour announced they would raise the industry’s minimum wage by less than a quarter of what union leaders had demanded.

Union leaders immediately decried the Labour Ministry’s decision to raise minimum salaries in the garment sector to $95 in April, rather than the $160 minimum wage they supported.

“I hope officials will negotiate again on the minimum wage in order to end this dispute,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW). “If the government or the employers don’t, protests will grow larger and larger without ending.”

As of yesterday, 94 factories across Phnom Penh and several provinces had shuttered to join the strike, according to the Free Trade Union (FTU).

In a joint statement released hours after Tuesday’s decision, CUMW, FTU, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC) and the Cambodia Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) called for a national strike of garment workers until the government agreed to set the industry’s minimum wage to $160 in the coming year.
read more.
PPP new

* Protesting workers block NR 2 demanding pay increase:

Hundreds of garment employees from the Macau-owned M & V International Manufacturing Ltd rallied in front of the factory on Thursday, blocking National Road two.

During the rally, protesting factory employees held banners and shouted their demand of a minimum wage increase of $160 per month.
Police forces and traffic policemen were seen being deployed to ease the traffic congestion.
Garment factory workers from two nearby factories were also seen holding their own rallies, demanding the same pay increase.
The protests and strike erupted at garment and footwear factories throughout the provinces and the capital after the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training announced the results of the wage talks.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* GMAC calls for factories to shutter:

As workers protest in their thousands, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) this morning strongly urged its member factories to close for the rest of this week, fearing strike-related violence.

“If the workers are working in the factories, some bad elements of the demonstrators will go around and destroy your factories gates and properties in order to force the workers out to join the demonstration to demand a wage of US$160,” reads a letter sent by email and obtained by the Post. “It is safer if there are no workers in the factories.”

Five labour unions called for a nationwide strike on Tuesday, hours after the Ministry of Labour announced that the minimum wage in Cambodia’s garment sector would rise next year from the current $80 – including a $5 health bonus – to $95, rather than the $160 workers want.
read more. & read more.
PPP new CAMHERALD

* Striking Factory Workers Join CNRP Protests:

More than 10,000 garment factory workers joined opposition CNRP protests Wednesday in Phnom Penh, while tens of thousands more went on strike at factories across the country, following the government’s decision on Tuesday to raise the minimum wage to $95, a figure that fell well short of workers’ demands.

Leaders of the country’s independent and opposition-aligned unions said that workers at more than 120 garment factories in five provinces were on strike over the government’s decision to raise the minimum wage by just $15, falling $65 short of their demand for a $160 monthly wage.
read more. & read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo CAMHERALD

* Protest paths converge:

Drawing on leader Sam Rainsy’s deep connections to the labour movement, the Cambodia National Rescue Party announced plans to mobilise strikers at factories this morning and lead thousands on marches around Phnom Penh.

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann said last night that elected lawmakers would be sent to factories to meet workers striking over the garment sector’s minimum wage.
“We will invite them to Freedom Park, and in the afternoon, we will march together around the city,” he said.
(…)
Although opposition demonstrations since July’s election have invariably involved garment workers, only in recent days – as they have begun striking across the country – has the CNRP intensified its focus on them.

The industry’s 400,000-plus workers are considered a demographic that contributed to the CNRP making significant gains at July’s election, which was awarded to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, 68 seats to 55.
read more.
PPP new

* Pro-opposition’s trade unions rally against low wage hike for 2014 in Cambodia :

An estimated 3,000 garment workers from various factories rallied at the capital’s Freedom Park on Wednesday to protest against the low wage hike for 2014.

The strike was led by pro-opposition trade unions.
It happened a day after the government decided to raise a monthly minimum wage for a garment worker to 95 US dollars from April onwards from the current 80 US dollars.
Labor Minister Ith Samheng said Tuesday that the government also set to raise 15 US dollars for 2015, 16 US dollars for 2016 and 17 US dollars in both 2017 and 2018, so a garment worker will fetch a monthly minimum wage of 160 US dollars from 2018.
However, pro-opposition’s trade unions demanded to double the wage for workers from 2014.
read more.
globaltimes

$160

 20131227

* Strike numbers swell:

20131227 PPP Garment-Workers-Joing-CNRP-Freedom-Park
Garment workers who joined CNRP supporters at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh hold protest signs and demand that the minimum wage be increased yesterday. Photo by Hong Menea.

Arriving in bursts of 20, 30 and 50 at a time, thousands of garment workers filled Freedom Park yesterday afternoon, shouting slogans and holding aloft cardboard sheets bearing the figure “$160” hand-written in marker, amid a quickly growing national strike.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) reacted to the fluid situation earlier in the day, “strongly” suggesting its 473 member factories close until Monday in order to avoid possible strike-related violence and property damage, while the Ministry of Labour invited members of six unions to discuss a resolution at an emergency meeting today.

The explosion of strikers came two days after the Ministry of Labour announced it would raise Cambodian garment workers’ minimum wage – which now stands at $80, including a health bonus – to $95, rather than the $160 workers and unions demanded.
(…)
A letter from seven union groups – the CUMW, FTU, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the Coalition of Cambodian Unions (CCU), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), the Worker Friendship Union Federation (WFUF) and the Independent Youth Trade Union (IYTU) – addressed to GMAC executive committee chairman Van Sou Ieng and forwarded to the Labour Ministry yesterday claimed that nearly 250,000 people would join the strike if their demands are not met within a week.

“If you cannot meet all demands within one week, the unions and workers in every [garment] factory in the country will join demonstrations,” the letter says.

In addition to an industry-wide minimum wage of $160, the letter demanded $3 for meals each day for all workers, justice for people shot during a November clash between police and striking SL Garment Processing (Cambodia) Ltd workers, and four other points.

C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn said the seven-member coalition will consider ending the strike if wages are raised to $160, but more demands may come out of the woodwork as the strike continues.
“If there’s no progress, demands will get bigger and bigger,” Thorn said yesterday afternoon.
read & see more. (video).
PPP new

* Striking Garment Factory Workers Join CNRP Protest Again:

More than 10,000 striking garment factory workers again streamed into Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park throughout the day Thursday, joining opposition supporters on their 12th straight day of demonstrations and marches to demand that Prime Minister Hun Sen resign, and call a new election.

The workers, who have been on strike since Tuesday to demand the minimum monthly wage increase from $80 to $160, arrived in an string of noisy convoys that filled the park by lunchtime.
Thousands of the workers had turned out to the CNRP’s demonstration on Wednesday, and the party’s top leaders, including President Sam Rainsy, spent Thursday morning encouraging more to join the protest by visiting factories in Kandal, Kompong Speu and Kompong Chhnang provinces.

The morning consisted of the strikers dancing to music and giving brief speeches to air their grievances against Mr. Hun Sen’s government and call for the minimum wage to be raised to $160 immediately.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Factories Advised to Close as Wage Strikes Swell:

Cambodia’s garment manufacturers were advised to temporarily shut down operations Thursday as tens of thousands of workers at hundreds of factories joined nationwide strikes over wages, disrupting a $5 billion industry that accounts for about 80 percent of the country’s exports.

Rallies led by the opposition CNRP also continued to swell, reaching more than 10,000 people in the afternoon, as workers walked off the job and spent the day in Freedom Park, joining the 12th consecutive day of demonstrations calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Unions announce January strikes until goals achieved:

386 labor unions in Cambodia said that they will hold massive strikes beginning in January 2014 to demand minimum wage be raised to $160 per month along with other demands.

The unions representing 249,700 workers in the garment sector sent a letter to the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) on Thursday, announcing their intent to strike.
In the letter, the unions said that they will lead workers to strike and march along the streets until their demands are met.
Apart from demanding $160 per month for the footwear and garment sectors, they also demand $3 per day for food, and factory employers keep compensation at the National Treasury to be provided to workers when the factories are closed.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Three injured, three arrested in clash:

At least three police officers have been injured and three protesting workers arrested after a violent clash erupted in the Special Economic Zone of the Por Senchey district on Friday, according to reports.

The violence broke out after police officers at the site pushed protesting workers who were blocking National Road four.
During the clash, angry workers threw rocks and bottles at police forces.
In another part of the country, hundreds of protesting workers have blocked the road in front of the Ministry of Labor and the Prampi Makara overpass to demand that minimum wage be raised to $160 per month by 2014.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Hun Sen Encounters ‘Choh Chenh Tov’ Chants on Drive to Airport:

Prime Minister Hun Sen got an unexpected send-off from thousands of striking garment factory workers Thursday morning when his motorcade passed the marchers along Russian Boulevard as he traveled to Phnom Penh International Airport to depart for a three-day state visit to Vietnam.

Holding paper placards demanding a salary of $160 per month, many among a crowd of between 5,000 and 6,000 garment workers chanted “Hun Sen Euy! Choh Chenh Tov! [Hun Sen get out],” as the prime minister’s car and an accompanying entourage of senior government officials passed by the marchers.

Police and members of the prime minister’s personal bodyguard unit, who normally clear the streets of the city for Mr. Hun Sen’s motorcade to pass, appeared unable to keep the marching workers out of sight, and earshot, of the premier.

Marching with the workers, Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), said that 85 percent of the strikers encountered by the prime minister on Russian Boulevard had walked out of more than 20 garment factories in the city’s Choam Chao area and were en route to join the opposition party’s protest at Freedom Park.

“The worker marched from Choam Chao only to demand their main claim of wage rise,” Mr. Chhun said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodian police clash with protesting workers:

Cambodian police fired warning shots Friday during a brief clash with striking garment workers demanding higher wages, an official said.

The violence broke out when military police tried to move thousands of striking workers off a road on the outskirts of the capital Phnom Penh, according to Am Sam Ath of local rights group Licadho.
The workers then threw rocks at the authorities who fired “many warning shots” into the air and hit protesters with their batons, he told AFP.
Several people on both sides were reportedly injured.

Disputes over wages and safety conditions are common in Cambodia’s multi-billion dollar garment industry which supplies brands like Gap, Nike and H&M.
read more.
CAMHERALD

Cambodian police free 3 detained workers in clash:

Cambodian anti-riot police on Friday released three striking workers who were involved in a brief clash at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Friday morning, police and rights group said.

The clash between anti-riot police and striking workers left at least three police officers and four workers injured.
“We just detained them a few hours for education; then, we released them,” Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, told Xinhua.
The clash happened when a few thousand striking workers blocked the national road in front of the zone on the outskirts of Phnom Penh and hurled stones at police and factories, he said.
“These were illegal acts, we have to crack down on them, we could not allow them to cause anarchy and chaos,” he said, adding that as of Friday afternoon, workers are still blocking the road.

According to a Xinhua’s photojournalist who was at the scene, about 500 anti-riot police officers are deployed to protect the zone while around 2,000 striking workers are continuing their blockade of the National Road No. 4 in front of the zone.
Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for the rights group Licadho, said at least four workers were injured by police batons.
“Now, they’re still confronting each other. We’re concerned that the situation will get worse if there is no any solution,” he told Xinhua over telephone.

Meanwhile, several thousand other workers have gathered in front of the Ministry of Labor in Phnom Penh to demand that the government double their wages from 2014.
Since Wednesday, tens of thousands of garment workers in hundreds of factories have walked out of their work in protest against low wage hike for 2014.
read more.
globaltimes

* Factories to lose millions:

The economic fallout from garment worker protests and the industry’s response is expected to cost the key sector millions of dollars while tarnishing the country’s reputation among international buyers, interviews with suppliers and figures from previous periods of labour unrest show.

Disputes over wages came to a head yesterday when the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) issued a letter to its 400-plus members urging them to cease operations for a week amid escalating protests.

The letter, which said the shutdown would avoid confrontations, came two days after unions called for a strike in response to the Ministry of Labour’s announcement that wages in the garment sector would rise to $95 in 2014, rather than the immediate hike to $160 that workers demanded.
A coalition of garment and textile unions predicts that more than 200,000 workers from 300 factories will eventually join the strike action.
read more.
PPP new

* BetterFactories Media Updates 21-27 December 2013:

* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-12-23 Unionist firings inspire walkout
2013-12-24 Keep striking for $160, Rainsy urges
2013-12-24 Turmoil marks year in labour
2013-12-25 CNRP sees allies in strikers
2013-12-25 Home for the holidays
2013-12-26 Protest paths converge
2013-12-26 Strike picks up stream
2013-12-27 Factories to lose millions
2013-12-27 Strike numbers swell

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-12-23 Government proposes $160 for new minimum wage
2013-12-23 No end in sight for Svay Rieng SEZ strikes
2013-12-24 Sam Rainsy visits Svay Rieng’s protesting SEZ workers
2013-12-25 Monthly wage increased to $95, unions vow to strike
2013-12-26 Striking factory workers join CNRP protests
2013-12-27 Factories advised to close as wage strikes swell
2013-12-27 Striking garment factory workers join CNRP again

BetterFactories Media updates overview here.
BF NEW

$160

20131228-29

20131228 * Workers Block Roads, Vow Further Strikes:

Thousands of striking garment factory workers blocked two major thoroughfares in Phnom Penh on Friday, demanding that the government raise the minimum wage to $160, instead of the $95 figure that was decided upon earlier this week.

An official at the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said that the majority of more than 400 factories in the association remained closed on Friday in order to protect their workers and work sites from potentially violent elements in the demonstrations.

Beginning in the morning and continuing late into the afternoon, groups of striking workers demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Labor and Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (SEZ), blocking traffic along Russian Boulevard and National Road 4.

More than 10,000 workers once again joined supporters of the opposition CNRP in Freedom Park for the 13th straight day of demonstrations calling for fresh elections and the removal of Prime Minister Hun Sen—and an increase of the minimum wage to $160.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20131228 * Violent clash as garment strike intensifies:

A nationwide garment worker strike intensified yesterday with at least one violent clash, even as authorities and Ministry of Labour officials agreed to continue negotiations with labour unions and industry officials on Monday.

More than 1,000 strikers blocked Russian Boulevard in front of the Labour Ministry yesterday, as union groups continued to demand a minimum monthly wage of $160 for garment workers next year – rather than the $95 announced Tuesday – and six additional points including a daily $3 food allowance for all workers.

Garment workers currently earn a minimum wage of $80, which includes a $5 health bonus.

A meeting of six union groups and Labour Ministry officials yesterday ended with no resolution, but the unions – the Free Trade Union (FTU), the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the Coalition of Cambodian Unions (CCU), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU), the Worker Friendship Union Federation (WFUF) and the Independent Youth Trade Union (IYTU) – will gather again Monday morning at the ministry for a negotiating session with the the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn, who attended this afternoon’s meeting.

Monday’s meeting appears to be a sincere effort on the government’s part to renegotiate the $95 minimum wage, said Dave Welsh, country director of labour rights group Solidarity Center.
“I’m pretty confident that they’re looking to renegotiate the minimum wage they announced,” Welsh said after the meeting.
read more.
PPP new

20131228 * Workers continue block of NR 4:

Thousands of factory workers on Saturday continue to block National Road four located in the district of Por Senchey, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Anti-riot police forces were seen being deployed at the Special Economic Zone, to maintain order and provide security for workers and the residents of the area.
The angry garment factory workers have blocked the road since Friday in their quest for a pay raise of $160 per month.
Violence broke out that same day after military-police officers tried to chase the protesters from the area in order to alleviate traffic and open up the road.
The officers also fired warning shots into the air after irate workers threw rocks at them.
read more.
CAMHERALD

20131228 * Defense Minister Warns Protesters Against Blocking Streets:

Striking garment factory workers and protesting CNRP supporters should respect people of other nationalities and make sure they act within the boundaries of the law, Defense Minister Tea Banh said Thursday.

Speaking at an opening ceremony for three new Royal Cambodian Armed Force science laboratory buildings, General Banh said that demonstrating is legal, but protesters should not block roads, and he accused the opposition of racism for its stance toward Vietnam.
“The CNRP has incited Cambodian people to hate other races of people,” Gen. Banh said. “Vietnam is very important, and we should remain friendly together as we have been for a long time.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20131229 * Cambodia’s GMAC says garment industry unable to continue operations due to illegal strikes:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) on Sunday issued a statement, informing all stakeholders that the industry was unable to continue operations because six trade unions have conducted illegal and violent actions against factory property and forced workers out of work.

“Since Dec. 25, six trade unions have staged illegal and violent actions including destroying factory property, inciting workers to strike, and forcing workers to stop their work as well as their apparent impunity by the Ministry of Labor have left us with no other option but to close,” the statement said.

Garment sector, the country’s largest foreign currency earner, consists of about 500 factories employing some 510,600 workers. The industry earned 5 billion U.S. dollars in the first eleven months of this year.

The six labor unions with the pro-opposition tendency have led tens of thousands of garment workers to go on strikes since Wednesday after the government decided to raise a monthly minimum wage in the garment sector to 95 U.S. dollars from the current 80 U.S. dollars, but those trade unions disagreed with the new wage hike and demanded the government to force the GMAC to double worker’s wage to 160 U.S. dollars from 2014.
read more.
XINHUAnet

$160

 20131230

* CNRP calls a timeout:

After garment workers swelled turnout at the opposition’s ongoing demonstrations yesterday to what some estimated to be double the number seen at any previous rally, party leadership announced a weeklong moratorium on the marches.

Demonstrators will continue to assemble at Freedom Park each day, said Cambodia National Rescue Party MP-elect Mu Sochua, hours after protesters took to the streets yesterday. But instead of marching, protesters will hold “peoples’ conferences” – during which they will be allowed to speak freely onstage – each day from 4:30pm to 6:30pm.

“We can block a road whenever we want,” said Sochua, who added that the weeklong respite in marching will give the ruling Cambodian Peoples’ Party until January 5 to mull over a proposal CNRP members sent them on Saturday for the two parties to begin negotiations. “It has to come to the negotiation table; I don’t think we can avoid each other.”

The number of protesters marching yesterday appeared to exceed last Sunday’s estimated 100,000 people, with demonstrators continuing to demand the government increase the minimum monthly garment wage to $160 next year, rather than $95, which the Labour Ministry set last week.

In response to the growing strike, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) yesterday said that it had no choice but to close factories until the issue was resolved.

In an open letter from GMAC, the factory association warns its 473 members that protesters could pose a danger to workers and factory property.

“[GMAC] would like to inform all stakeholders that our industry is unable to continue operations given the current situation,” the letter reads. “The illegal and violent actions of … six trade unions … as well as their apparent impunity by the Ministry of Labour have left us with no other option but to close.”
read & see more. (video).
PPP new

* Factories Closed Until Safety Guaranteed:

The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) on Sunday said all of the country’s 400-plus garment factories will remain closed until the government and striking trade unions can guarantee the safety of the factories and all employees who want to work.

The decision, outlined in an open letter GMAC released after a meeting of its board Sunday morning, will effectively halt the country’s largest export industry, which generated a critical $5 billion in revenue during the first 11 months of this year.

Dissatisfied with a $15 raise in the monthly minimum wage to $95, which the government approved for all garment workers last week, some unions have stepped up their strikes and protests, demanding a doubling of their wages to $160. One protest on the outskirts of Phnom Penh turned violent on Friday when workers briefly clashed with police, leaving windows smashed and at least three protesters bruised.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Garment industry blames six unions for mass factory shutdown:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) has blamed a factory shutdown on “illegal and violent activities” by six trade unions, warning that they will be held fully responsible for losses in wages, jobs and investment.

“Our industry is unable to continue operations given the current situation,” GMAC said in an open letter dated Sunday.

The association said it had tried its best to keep operating in an “extremely difficult business and economic environment” over the years. “We have also had to put up with numerous illegal strikes and militant behavior of some trade unions.”
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Wage talks kick off without employers:

Wage re-negotiations for footwear and garment factory workers commenced on Monday, without factory employers, to end Cambodia’s widespread protests and strikes by factory workers.

Thousands of factory workers were seen gathering outside the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training where government representatives and union leaders are currently holding the talks.

GMAC (Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia) had announced on Sunday that they would not attend Monday’s wage talks.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Wage talks fail again, protests resume:

Wage talks held Monday morning by representatives from the government and trade unions yielded no results leading to the announcement by the six unions to continue their strikes and protests throughout the country to continue their demand for USD 160 per month

However, other trade unions warned to hold counter-protests against the protests led by the six trade unions.
“It gets very risky if wages rise to $160 per month,” Chuon Momthol, leader of the pro-government Cambodian Union Federation (CUF), told reporters after this morning’s wage meeting.
“I dare to say that at least 80 percent of all factories operating in Cambodia will be closed except for the larger ones,” he said.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Thousands protest after failed wage talks:

Thousands of protesting workers have blocked the road in front of the Office of the Council of Ministers after Monday morning’s failed wage talks.

Hundreds of anti-riot police forces and barbed wires were deployed at the site where workers have gathered.
The protest erupted after the wage talks between union leaders and government representatives yielded no results.
Factory employers refused to attend this morning’s wage talks.
read more.
CAMHERALD

201312310 M

“We are protesting for #MW160KH not against police” worker said.
Photo by

* Cambodian Government warns to take strong action against widespread strike provokers:

The government today warned to take tough actions against those who provoke troubles for the operation of the garment manufacturers and the daily work of the workers.

“The factory employers shall resume operation and the workers shall go to work as usual on 2 January,” said the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training in its statement today aft the collapse of minimum wage talks this morning.
The ministry added that “Competent authorities will take tough actions in accordance with the laws against provokers who troubles the factories and workers”.
The ministry also said that the minimum wage (USD 95) shall be based on the decision of the 24 December.
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

 20131231

Take it or leave it offer:

20131231 PPP Garment-work-Strike
A garment factory worker holds a placard during a protest that saw Russian Boulevard blockaded by razor wire and riot police yesterday in Phnom Penh. Garment workers are continuing to strike across the nation, demanding a higher minimum wage. Photo by Vireak Mai.

The government took a hard line against garment-factory strikers after thousands blocked Russian Boulevard in front of the Council of Ministers yesterday, ordering them to accept a $95 minimum wage and return to work on Thursday.

Alleging that six union groups provoked the nationwide strike – which officially began last week when workers were afforded a minimum monthly wage $65 less than they had asked – the Labour Ministry’s notice warned union leaders that the government will pursue legal action if the strike continues.

“The [$95] minimum wage was the decision of the Labour Advisory Committee’s on December 24,” the notice says. “Competent legal authorities will take steadfast legal action against anyone who agitates and disturbs employees and enterprises.”

Ministry officials sent the letter to leadership at the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the Free Trade Union (FTU), the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC), the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions and the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU).

Letters were sent to unions after the Council of Ministers issued a notice to the Labour Ministry, instructing Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng to warn of harsh consequences for union leaders, and to begin legal action against CCU president Rong Chhun.
“If they do not want to stop their strike, we will suspend their license,” reads the letter, which was signed by Council Secretary Ngor Hong Ly. “If they continue striking, we will cancel their licenses; and if they still continue then, we will sue them in court.”
But because his confederation is not registered with the Labour Ministry, Chhun will face immediate legal action, the letter says.

Upon hearing of the order, Chhun told the Post that striking will continue.
“The ministry only ordered this because they do not have the ability to resolve the issue for the workers,” Chhun said. If workers had no problem with the Labour Advisory Committee’s decision last week, they would not have begun the strike in the first place, he added.
read & see more. (video).
PPP new

* Gov’t Unveils Legal Plan to Break Garment Industry Strike:

As mass demonstrations by garment factory workers continued Monday, the government laid out plans to bring an end to the labor unrest within the next three days, including suing union leaders in the courts and mobilizing security forces to take unspecified action.

The Council of Ministers sent a letter to Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng on Monday recommending that if demonstrations don’t stop, the leaders of five nongovernment aligned unions leading the strikes should have their licenses revoked and be brought to court, while the leader of a sixth unlicensed union should be prosecuted in court immediately.

Signed by Council of Ministers’ Secretary of State Ngor Hongly, the letter offers a five-step plan to the Ministry of Labor for how to deal with the nationwide strikes.

If union leaders do not immediately stop their demonstrations, the Labor Ministry should revoke their union licenses. If demonstrations continue, the letter suggests that union leaders should be brought to court.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Some Factories Stay Open Despite GMAC’s Call for Shutdown:

Some garment factories opened their doors Monday morning despite a notice on Sunday from the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) that all factories should stay closed until the government and striking unions guaranteed their safety.

In an open letter on Sunday, GMAC accused six unions—all known to not be aligned with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s ruling CPP—of inciting their members to damage factory property and of coercing workers to join their protests for higher wages. GMAC said all 400-plus factories in the association would close, or stay closed, until those unions and the Labor Ministry could assure their safety.

In another statement Monday, GMAC said some factories had stayed open, but only because many workers were urging them to.

“On the morning of December 30, some members of the association who were requested by the workers to return to work and earn salary as usual forcibly opened operations under the request of the workers with hopes to support their living and their families,” GMAC said in the statement.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Hundreds of anti-riot forces deployed as workers continue to block road:

Thousands of protesting footwear and garment factory workers, who demand minimum wage be increased to $160 per month, continue to block the road in front of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training on Tuesday.

The wage protest resumed at the ministry, after wage talks held yesterday between union leaders and government representatives failed.

During the protest, factory employee representatives shouted their demand for the resignation of Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng if he fails to find a solution to their wage crisis.

Hundreds of anti-riot forces were seen being deployed near the ministry where the workers are rallying.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodian garment workers demand higher wages:

20131231 DW

Tens of thousands of people have marched on the streets of Phnom Penh, demanding that long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen resign. Many were garment workers, who walked out last week in a dispute over the minimum wage.

The peaceful march on Sunday, December 29, headed by opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his deputy Kem Sokha, was the largest of its kind in over a decade. Phnom Penh’s streets rang with calls for Hun Sen to quit, something that would have been unthinkable even a year ago.

The movement to unseat Hun Sen, who has been at the helm of one of the world’s most corrupt nations for nearly three decades, is being led by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
read more.
DW

* In Cambodia, pressure mounts on a longtime leader:

Cambodian garment factory workers Then Any and Vong Pov aren’t showing up for work anymore. They make pairs of jeans sold in American stores at prices per pair higher than their $80 (48.40 pounds) monthly income and struggle to make ends meet.

It sounds like an all-too familiar story of labour disputes in one of Asia’s poorest countries, but this time it’s different. Their strike has taken on a new significance and is presenting a rare challenge to one of the world’s longest-serving leaders, Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The pair are just 18 and have only basic education, but are among 350,000 new and powerful allies of a political opposition seeking a re-run of a July election they say was stolen from them by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).
Huddled behind barbed wired fences and stared down by riot police outside Hun Sen’s offices are hundreds of factory workers demanding a doubling of wages and threatening to shut down roads and cripple an industry worth $5 billion a year.

“I can’t feed myself,” said Then Any, as workers hurled water bottles towards police lines.
Vong Pov added: “Factories must give us a raise, otherwise, we will strike continuously.”

Instrumental in courting support of disgruntled workers who make clothes and footwear for brands like Adidas, Gap and Nike is Sam Rainsy, whose once-impotent party reinvented itself this year to tap resentment and present Hun Sen with an unprecedented electoral challenge.
read more.
EURONEWS

* Cambodia garment workers: Double minimum wage! :

Garment workers in Cambodia demonstrate in late December, demanding a doubling of the minimum wage from $80 to $160 a month.

Union leaders say more than 300,000 workers in 120 factories across the country went on strike this week in response to the Dec. 24 announcement by the government’s Labor Advisory Council that the minimum wage will be raised to $95 in April 2014 and with annual increases to $160 in 2018. Union federations are demanding an immediate raise to $160.

Workers have staged a record number of strikes this year, most of them centered on demands for higher wages. According to the Garment Manufacturers Association, there were 131 strikes from January through November, up from 121 for all of last year. Adjusted for inflation, wages today are at the same level as 2000.
read more.
MILITANT

* ILO expresses ‘significant concern’ over labor unrest:

The International Labour Organisation expressed Tuesday “significant concern” over Cambodia’s labor unrest and called for an immediate halt to violence and property destruction.

“The economic fallout from the  protests and the industry’s response to them may impact significantly on the industry’s revenues while tarnishing the country’s reputation among international buyers,” the ILO said in a statement.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* ILO urges dialogue to resolve current dispute in garment sector:

The ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR is closely following
developments in the garment industry in Cambodia, particularly in relation to recent industrial unrest.

The current disruption within such an important sector for the Cambodian economy is a cause for significant concern. The economic fallout from the
protests and the industry’s response to them may impact significantly on the industry’s revenues while tarnishing the country’s reputation among international buyers. As Cambodia’s largest industrial sector, accounting for some US$5 billion per year in exports, and some 400,000 jobs, the risks arising out of the current situation are significant for a sector which continues to operate in an intensely competitive international environment.
Resolving the current situation will require support from all stakeholders, workers, trade unions, government and business and its representatives. The ILO urges all of these actors to maximise efforts to find a resolution to the situation. We strongly encourage all parties to intensify these efforts through channels based on the principles of social dialogue and tripartism.
read more in PDF:20131231 ILO CMB resolve dispute in garment sector1.
ILO DECENTWORK

* Industry demands government ‘action’ to protect investment, jobs:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) called Tuesday for government action to protect private investment and jobs from continuing labor unrest.

In a statement, GMAC also appealed to the six labor leaders it named Sunday to refrain from linking private investors to their political dispute with the government.

“The Royal Government and politicians have a role to protect and create an investment climate that is favorable to the investors in the private sector so that more jobs could be created to support the development of the national economy and help reduce poverty in the country,” the statement said.
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

 20140101

20140101 $160
“Solidarity for #MW160KH”

* Extra $5 ‘won’t woo workers’:

20140101 PPP Garment-Strike
Garment workers gather at the Ministry of Labour during a protest yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo by Vireak Mai.

Striking garment unions balked yesterday at the Ministry of Labour’s announcement that it would raise garment workers’ minimum monthly wage to $100, well short of the $160 they demand.

Leaders of the six union groups representing striking workers generally saw the notification of a $5 bump to the ministry’s mandated $95 wage as a sign that the government is amenable to further raising wages, but said the amount is not enough to end the ongoing nationwide strike.

“The government’s decision to increase the minimum wage to $100 is a good sign for the workers,” Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), said yesterday. “But they want more than $100.”
(…)
After the Labour Ministry’s Labour Advisory Committee last week landed on $95 for the garment sector’s 2014 minimum wage, union groups – including the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), the Free Trade Union (FTU), the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC), the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW), the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions and the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU) – walked off the job.

The ministry’s modest wage rise yesterday marked a distinct change of tone from Monday, when it threatened legal action against union leaders if the strike did not end by tomorrow. But the offer did little to persuade strikers to leave the picket line and return to workstations, CCU president Rong Chhun said.
“Increasing the minimum wage to only $100 does not fulfil the demands of workers and unions,” Chhun told the Post.

C.CAWDU vice president Kong Athit said strike demonstrations would halt temporarily today, but resume tomorrow, when workers will protest in front of their respective factories.

In raising the minimum wage offer at all, the Labour Ministry has sent the wrong message to strikers and their unions, said Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia.
“First of all, it came as a total surprise.… It undermines everything we’ve done before and is saying it’s OK to ignore the set rules and regulations [regarding strikes] and you’ll be rewarded,” Loo said. “Our perception is it will not solve the problem. In fact, it will make it worse.”

Along with garment workers, teachers will soon join the strike, said Chhun, who also serves as president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA). At CITA’s annual conference yesterday Chhun announced that teachers would also take their grievances to the streets beginning on January 6.
read more.
PPP new

* Amid Strikes, Minister Raises Minimum Wage to $100:

A week after workers began nationwide strikes over the government’s decision to raise the garment sector minimum wage by $15 to $95, the Ministry of Labor announced Tuesday that it would now increase the monthly wage by an additional $5, to $100.

However, the leaders of six nongovernment aligned unions, who have led thousands of garment factory workers in demonstrations this week demanding a $160 minimum wage, rejected the $100 offer.

In a statement signed by Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng, the government also announced that the wage raise for garment workers must be implemented beginning in February, rather than April, as was initially planned for the $15 increase.

In the past nine months, the government has increased the minimum wage in the garment sector by 64 percent, from $61.
Prak Chanthoeun, director-general of the General Department of Labor Conflict at the Ministry of Labor, said that the additional $5 raise was made in order to appease striking workers, who have held mass demonstrations for the past two days in front of the ministry on Russian Boulevard.
“His Excellency Minister [Ith Sam Heng] made the decision to change the minimum wage because he wants to stop the protests,” Mr. Chanthoeun said.

Morm Nhim, president of the National Independent Federation of Textile Unions in Cambodia, said the offer fell short of $160 per month.
“We see that the government has relaxed its stance toward finding a solution, but we cannot accept this decision because the increase was very small,” Ms. Nhim said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Authority will not use forces to crackdown on protesters: Governor:

Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong said that authorities will not use forces to crack down on protesters.

“Talk is the only choice to find solutions,” said the governor.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Workers out, deadlines loom:

As mass garment strikes enter a second week, fast-approaching buyer deadlines have manufacturers fretting about transport costs and mounting bills.

At least two of Cambodia’s hundreds of garment manufacturers, which ceased operations last week after workers walked off the job demanding a 100 per cent wage increase, will consider paying more than three times their usual transport costs to meet due dates and avoid late penalties.

Nam-Shik Kang, the managing director of Injae Garment Co in Phnom Penh, said manufacturers are expecting to have to fork out thousands of extra dollars to send their shipments by air freight instead of by ship to meet the looming deadlines and avoid penalties. This scenario, however, is still contingent on workers returning to finish off orders for shipment, an unlikely prospect in the short term.
read more.
PPP new

$160 We Need

$160

 20140102

20140101 $160     $160 We Need
“Solidarity for #MW160KH”

* Cambodian troops in riot gear break up strike:

20140102 ALJAZEERATwo witnesses said they saw troops striking a Buddhist monk [Reuters]

Cambodian troops armed with batons and rifles have broken up a protest by textile workers demanding a doubling of wages as part of a nationwide strike by unions allied with the main opposition party.

Witnesses said around 100 soldiers wearing riot gear and carrying assault rifles on Thursday used force to clear hundreds of workers protesting outside their factory about 20km west of the capital, Phnom Penh.

“Soldiers beat up everyone,” said labour rights activist Chhorn Sokha of the Community Legal Education Center. “They had sticks, electric batons, slingshots and stones.”
At least 10 protesters were detained and it was not known yet how many were hurt, she added.

Photographers, including one from Reuters news agency, were hit by batons while covering the protest. Two witnesses said they also saw troops striking a Buddhist monk.
The clashes mark a violent turn after two weeks of relatively peaceful strikes, marches and demonstrations of unprecedented scale in Cambodia. Security forces, which have a reputation for zero-tolerance, have so far exercised restraint.
read more. & to read.
aljazeera reuters

* GMAC to suspend garment production until the situation returns to normalcy:

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) today sent a letter to the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training to inform about suspension of the work of many factories due to fear for security and safety of the workers.

“Due to unrest and dangerous situation, especially the security and safety, and the life of the workers, the factories find it difficult to prevent violence which can happen in every miniute,” said Ken Loo, the GMAC Secretary General in his letter dated on Jan 2, which was sent to Ith Sam Heng, the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Unions to Bring Demonstrations to Factory Gates:

Despite a warning from the government to end demonstrations over the garment sector minimum wage by today, union leaders said Wednesday that workers would continue nationwide demonstrations after taking a one-day break to mark the new year.

Strikes and demonstrations have been ongoing since the government decided last week to raise the minimum wage to $95, well below union demands for a $160 monthly wage. A decision on Tuesday by Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng to raise the minimum wage by an additional $5, to $100, was rejected by the non-government aligned unions.

Morm Nhim, one of six union leaders who have been told they could face legal action if demonstrations do not stop, said that workers would hold demonstrations today at individual factories.

“Most of the workers took the day off for a holiday today, but they will continue to protest tomorrow at their factories to demand the minimum wage [of $160],” she said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Workers block many roads in wage strike:

Thousands of workers have blocked roads in many places to demand wage increase to $160 per month.

The protests took place on Thursday at many factories in Phnom Penh, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang and Kandal provinces.
Anti-riot police forces were seen to crack down on workers at the National Road four.
After the meeting on December 31, 2013, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training decided to increase the wage from $80 to $100, starting from Feb 2014.
However, the labor union leaders still insisted on $160 per month.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* 15 people arrested in wage protest crackdown:

Military Police have arrested 15 protesters including Vorn Pov, President of Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDIEA) on Thursday for allegedly provoking violence.

The police said they were arrested because they threw rocks and damaged property of Korean-owned Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc in Kambol commune, Porsen Chey district, Phnom Penh.
The 15 arrested protesters included five monks who were identified as Meas Vichet, Thach Hasam Ang, Kong Rathanak Saray, Lay Lat and Kim Chanthorn.
Yakjin (Cambodia), located in Kambol commune, Porsenchey district, employs about 3,000 workers to produce shorts, pants, dress, hooked jacket, pajamas top, nightwear and pullover.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Workers quietly trickle back:

20140102 PPP Garment-Strike
Garment workers gather behind barbed wire during a strike on Monday in Phnom Penh. Photo by Vireak Mai.

As garment union groups resume their strike today, thousands of workers plan on returning to work, largely citing financial necessity rather than ideological disagreement with the unions.

The Ministry of Labour on Monday ordered union leaders to cease a nationwide strike that began nine days ago, after the ministry’s Labour Advisory Committee set this year’s minimum monthly wage for workers in the garment sector at $95 – $65 less than unions demanded. The ministry this week tacked another $5 onto the minimum wage, which will now rise to $100 next month.

“If we do not return to work, the factory will not pay us,” said Noun Bunthoeun, a worker representative at Chu Hsing Garments (Cambodia) Co Ltd in Phnom Penh, who added that more than 7,000 workers – about 80 per cent – at the Russey Keo district factory’s three branches will return today. “This does not mean we are abandoning our demand for [a minimum wage of] $160.”

Lacking financial resources is the primary motive for workers at 30 factories in Svay Rieng province, who will come back to work today, said Sok Na, a representative for the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) at the Best Way garment factory in Bavet town.
read more.
PPP new

Cambodian garment workers return to work as factories reopen, but striking unions chase workers off work:

A majority of garment and shoe workers have returned to work as factories reopened on Thursday after a week-long closure due to nationwide strikes over wage; however, protesting trade unions were still leading workers to go on strikes.

The country has about 900 garment and shoe factories with about 600,000 workers, according to Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour. The industry, the kingdom’s largest foreign exchange earner, generated 5 billion US dollars in revenues a year.

“On Thursday morning, about 500 factories have reopened and some 80 percent of the workers have returned to work,” he told Xinhua.

About 400 factories were still closed in fear of security and safety, he said, adding that striking workers were rallying in front of more than 30 factories to demand the government to double the minimum wage in the garment sector to 160 US dollars.
(…)
Sok Na, a representative for the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) at the Best Way garment factory at the Manhattan Special Economic Zone in eastern Svay Rieng Province, said about 90 percent of the workers in the zone returned to work on Thursday.

“Workers now agreed to accept the 100 US dollars minimum wage that the government announced on Tuesday,” he told Xinhua over telephone. “They all need jobs to support ourselves and families.”
read more.
globaltimes

* ILO urges dialogue to resolve current dispute in garment sector:

The ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR is closely following developments in the garment industry in Cambodia, particularly in relation to recent industrial unrest.

The current disruption within such an important sector for the Cambodian economy is a cause for significant concern.
The economic fallout from the protests and the industry’s response to them may impact significantly on the industry’s revenues while tarnishing the country’s reputation among international buyers. As Cambodia’s largest industrial sector, accounting for some US$5 billion per year in exports, and some 400,000 jobs, the risks arising out of the current situation are significant for a sector which continues to operate in an intensely competitive international environment.

Resolving the current situation will require support from all stakeholders, workers, trade unions, government and business and its representatives. The ILO urges all of these actors to maximise efforts to find a resolution to the sit

uation. We strongly encourage all parties to intensify these efforts through channels based on the principles of social dialogue and tripartism.
read more.
BF NEW

Cambodian security forces, striking workers clash, 10 arrested:

A brief clash between security forces and striking workers took place at a Cambodian garment factory on the outskirts of capital Phnom Penh on Thursday, leaving several protesters injured and 10 others arrested.

“Hundreds of protesting workers had tried to destroy the factory’s property, so security forces had to take action against them,” Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, told Xinhua after the 20-minute clash at Yak Jing Garment Factory. “We could not allow them to cause anarchy and chaos.”

He said 10 people, including Von Pov, president of the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economy, and a few Buddhist monks, were arrested for an inquiry after the incident.
Kheng Tito said those monks were fake because the police found underpants and condoms in their bags.
“They are not workers, but they joined to incite striking garment workers to destroy the factory’s property,” he said. “They will be charged with triggering violence.”
He said he did not know the number of people injured.
According to a Xinhua photojournalist at the scene, several protesters including Buddhist monks were injured on heads and faces due to security forces’ batons.
read more. & read more.
globaltimes XINHUAnet

* Photo Album: Three Days of Terror: State Forces Crack Down on Garment Factory:

20140102 LICADHO
A female garment worker joins a peacefully rally in front of the Ministry of Labor on December 28, 2013 demanding a monthly living wage of $160. Ninety percent of garments workers in Cambodia are women.

On Thursday, January 2, 2014, Special Command Unit 911 violently cracked down on demonstrating garment factory workers near South Korean/U.S.-owned Yak Jin factory in the Pursenchey district of Phnom Penh, using knives, pipes, slingshots, batons and high-powered rifles, including AK-47 machine guns, to intimidate and injure civilians.

The next day, state authorities used live ammunition to clear out the Canadia Industrial Area on Veng Sreng Road of civilians, resulting in four civilian deaths and dozens injured. On Saturday, January 4, authorities then drove out CNRP supporters, including monks, women, and children, from Freedom Park with batons and metal rods. Amidst the chaos, state forces prevented media and rights workers from entering the park.
read-see more.
licadho

$160

 20140103

* Crackdown turns deadly:

Gunfire at Phnom Penh’s Canadia Industrial Park today killed at least four people, a military police official said, after armed forces firing weapons stormed the area – where garment workers and supporters set fires and gutted at least one building.

“We received news from the hospital claiming that four people were killed and another 26 strikers were injured,” the military police official said on condition of anonymity.

Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, which tallied the casualties, also said four had been killed, adding that 29 others were shot in the crackdown and 12 more treated for injuries that have not been confirmed as gunshot wounds.

Rights group Adhoc has said that five people were killed in the crackdown, while Phnom Penh deputy police commissioner Chuon Narin told the Post only three people died and two were seriously injured.

The demonstration at Canadia comes amid an ongoing national strike that began last week when the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee set a new monthly minimum wage of $95 – $65 less than striking unions demanded. The ministry raised the minimum wage another $5 earlier this week, but many workers have remained on strike.
read more.
PPP new

 * 4 workers killed in unrest:

Cambodian military police yesterday opened fire with assault rifles to quell a protest by stone-throwing garment factory workers demanding higher pay in a crackdown a human rights group said killed four people.

Chaos during nationwide strikes erupted for a second day as security forces were deployed to halt a demonstration by thousands of workers, who refused to move and threw bottles, stones and petrol bombs at an industrial zone in Phnom Penh.
The clash represents an escalation of a political crisis in Cambodia, where striking workers and anti-government protesters have come together in a loose movement led by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).

Unions representing disgruntled garment workers have joined opposition supporters protesting against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen to demand a re-run of an election in July that the opposition says was rigged.

Military police confronting the protesters fired live ammunition, Reuters journalists said, and bullet casings were later seen scattered across the ground at the scene.
The clashes took place at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh, home to dozens of factories that make clothing for western brands that include Adidas, Puma and H&M Hennes & Mauritz.
Human rights group LICADHO described the incident as “horrific” and lambasted military police, adding that their own investigation and surveys of hospitals had found four people were killed and 21 wounded.
read more.
daily star bd

* Three Killed as Police Open Fire on Protesters:

At least three people were killed Friday morning when police opened fire on several hundred protesters blocking a street at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, police confirmed.

“So far, three are confirmed dead, two injured and two men were arrested by armed forces,” Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Chuon Narin said shortly after the incident at about 10 a.m.

Hundreds of young men and some women armed with sticks, rocks and Molotov cocktails confronted military police armed with AK-47s, riot shields and batons on Friday, following a night of fighting between both sides in the same location.

Barricades continued to burn and rubble was strewn across the road as both sides continued to clash Friday morning and afternoon. A medical clinic was destroyed by the demonstrators—mostly striking garment factory workers—allegedly because the clinic had refused to treat those injured by military police gunfire.
read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more. & read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo jak-globe  Return to frontpage CAMHERALD daily star bd reuters

* At least three killed at factory clash:

20140104 PPP riot for web
Police, some armed with automatic weapons, face off with rioting garment workers at the Canadia industrial complex in Phnom Penh on Friday morning. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

At least three protesters have been shot dead by police this morning at the Canadia industrial complex in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, Phnom Penh deputy police chief Chuon Narin has confirmed.

The use of force came as riot police moved in to break up a demonstration by thousands of workers who blocked Veng Sreng street, the site of an ongoing demonstration that began yesterday evening and saw hundreds of riot police deployed to the area after midnight.

Only moments ago, Post reporters on the scene confirmed that the widespread use of automatic weapons fire was still ongoing.

Union leaders and rights activists reported even higher death totals.
Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said he had received information that four strikers had been shot dead and many more injured.

“The situation now is still tense,” he told the Post. “Why are they cracking down on us as we just demanding our salary?”
read more.
PPP new

* Rights Worker Claims Five Dead in Clashes:

At least five people are dead after police opened fire on hundreds of protesters blocking a street at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, a human rights worker said Friday afternoon.

“I witnessed myself three people killed, but police I spoke to told me that at least five have been killed and 22 are injured,” said Chan Soveth, senior investigator for rights group Adhoc.
Earlier Friday, police confirmed three people had been killed.
“So far, three are confirmed dead, two injured and two men were arrested by armed forces,” Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Chuon Narin said shortly after the incident at about 10 a.m.

Hundreds of young men and some women armed with sticks, rocks and Molotov cocktails confronted military police armed with AK-47s, riot shields and batons on Friday, following a night of fighting between both sides at the same location.

Barricades continued to burn and rubble was strewn across the road as both sides continued to clash Friday morning and afternoon. A medical clinic was destroyed by the demonstrators—mostly striking garment factory workers—allegedly because the clinic had refused to treat those injured by military police gunfire.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

Civilians killed and injured by security forces amid civil unrest in Phnom Penh:

LICADHO has confirmed that at least four civilians were shot dead and 21 injured in the worst state violence against civilians to hit Cambodia in fifteen years.

Amid risks of growing civil unrest in Phnom Penh in the aftermath of the shootings, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) call on security forces and protestors to exercise urgent restraint on both sides to avoid any further bloodshed.

“We condemn this appalling use of extreme lethal force by security forces, said Naly Pilorge, LICADHO Director, “security forces must now put an immediate end to the use of live ammunition against civilians and ensure that all those injured are safely transported to hospital without delay.”

LICADHO monitors witnessed security forces using live ammunition to shoot directly at civilians near the Canadia Industrial Area on Veng Sreng Road at around 10am this morning. The use of live ammunition was prolonged and no efforts appear to have been made to prevent death and serious injury. Reports suggest that security forces were also injured after being hit with stones.
read more.
licadho

* Cambodia garment workers’ strike turns deadly:

At least three people were killed when security forces opened fire on striking Cambodian garment workers in the capital.

At least three Cambodians have been killed when police opened fire on garment workers on strike, as a nationwide wave of protests, backed by the main opposition party, presses on in demand for wages to be doubled. 

An Associated Press photographer and human rights workers said police fired AK-47 rifles on Friday, after several hundred workers blocking a road south of the capital Phnom Penh began burning tires and throwing objects at them. Several wounded workers could be seen after the shots were fired.

Phnom Penh deputy police commissioner Chuon Narin told AFP news agency that three people had been killed and several others wounded in the capital.
read & see more. (video report).
aljazeera

* Cambodian Police Fire on Protesters as Clashes Turn Violent:

Military police officers fired Friday on protesters demanding higher wages for Cambodian garment workers, killing at least three people, officials said, as antigovernment protests against the decades-old rule of Prime Minister Hun Sen entered a volatile new phase.

The garment workers are demanding a doubling of their monthly wages, and they have been at the forefront of growing protests against Mr. Hun Sen’s authoritarian government. On Sunday, tens of thousands of people rallied to demand that Mr. Hun Sen step down.

But Friday’s violence south of Phnom Penh, the capital, marked a sharp escalation in the unrest. Protesters resisted police efforts to break up the demonstrations, and some threw homemade explosives, setting fire to vehicles, and pelted officers with rocks and other projectiles. As the street battles raged, the police fired live ammunition and smoke canisters to try to quell the disturbances.
read more. & read more.
NYT GUARDIAN

* Paratroopers Deployed at Protest: 15 Detained, Injured:

More than a dozen monks, striking garment workers and journalists were beaten Thursday by members of the elite 911 paratrooper unit armed with batons, steel pipes and even slingshots during a bloody clash outside a Phnom Penh factory where a few hundred protesters gathered to demand a hike in their monthly pay.

Human rights groups said at least four monks and 10 other protesters detained at the scene were still held by the military as of Thursday evening. Another monk and one woman were being treated for their injuries at the Khmer Soviet Friendship Hospital.

Thursday’s violence followed after protesters arrived at the gates of the Yakjin factory off National Road 4 hoping to convince workers inside to join their demonstrations for a $160 monthly minimum wage for garment workers.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodian Troops Quash Protest at Garment Factory:

Cambodian soldiers forcefully quelled a demonstration by garment factory workers who were striking for better pay Thursday, detaining Buddhist monks and labor leaders.

Soldiers from a military special command unit carrying metal pipes, knives, AK-47 rifles, slingshots and batons clashed with workers at a factory in an outlying area of Phnom Penh, local human rights group LICADHO said. Its statement said 10 people were taken into military custody and that monks and workers were beaten.

National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said those arrested had led hundreds of protesting workers in trying to destroy factory property by throwing stones and iron objects.

Workers at most of the country’s more than 500 garment factories are on strike, demanding an increase in the minimum wage to US$160 a month, double the current rate. The government has offered $100 a month.
read more.
IRRAWADDY

Military Special Command Unit Deployed to Crackdown on Striking Workers:

The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) are outraged by today’s violent crackdown on striking workers by a military special command unit and the consequent violent arrest of union leaders, garment workers and monks.

The use of Special Command Unit 911 to suppress demonstrations near Yak Jin factory in Phnom Penh’s Pursenchey district is unprecedented and signals a disturbing new tactic by authorities to quash what have been largely peaceful protests.

Tension escalated this morning as striking garment workers from factories close to Yak Jin industrial unit gathered to urge other workers to join the general strike for a livable minimum wage. Soldiers from the neighboring 911 military base were quickly mobilized to quash the protest, leading to two violent clashes. The soldiers were seen brandishing metal pipes, knives, AK47 rifles, slingshots and batons.
read more.
licadho

* Arrested protesters sent to Prey Sar prison:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided today to send human rights activist Vorn Pov, and other nine protesters who were arrested in yesterday clash to prison.

Vorn Pov, president of Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDIEA), and the nine arrested protesters were sent to Prey Sar prison, awaiting for further investigation after the court procedure under tight security as hundreds of protesters including monks rallied outside the court to ask for their release.

They were arrested yesterday in a police crackdown at  at the Korean-owned Yakjin (Cambodia) after the striking workers allegedly threw rocks and damaged property in the factory.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Strike violence erupts:

20140103 PPP Garment-Strike-man-beaten
A man is dragged along a dirt road outside of Yakjin garment factory after being beaten by authorities yesterday in Por Sen Chey district. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

Authorities yesterday injured dozens of union leaders, garment workers and monks, arresting at least 15 of them, in a series of crackdowns against demonstrators protesting the industry’s minimum wage.

Garment workers and their supporters who were gathered yesterday in front of the Yakjin factory, off National Road 4 in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, said tensions between demonstrators and soldiers from a local military base guarding the factory boiled over at 9am when soldiers began unprovoked attacks on them.

The demonstration occurred amid a national garment worker strike that began last week when the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee set this year’s minimum monthly wage for workers in the garment sector at $95 – $65 less than unions demanded. The ministry this week tacked another $5 onto the minimum wage, which will now rise to $100 next month.

As the groups stood face-to-face on the dirt road just off the main road, soldiers began throwing water bottles at demonstrators, who picked up the bottles and threw them back at soldiers, said Chean Kongkea, a 20-year-old employee at Korean-owned Yakjin.
read & see more. (video report).
PPP new

* Cambodian police opens fire on striking garment workers:

Cambodian anti-riot police on Friday morning opened fire on striking garment workers, killing at least two protesters and injuring more than 10, according to a right group activist.

Chan Saveth, head of legal aid for rights group Adhoc, said the violence broke out when about 2,000 striking workers blocked a road in front of the Canadia Industrial Park to demand higher wage.
Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, could not be immediately reached for confirmation.
According to Xinhua photojournalists at the scene, police opened fire on strikers and several workers were dead, while some others were injured.
read more. & read more.
globaltimes theNATIONnew

* Cambodian police open fire on protesters, several wounded:

Cambodian police opened fire on protesting garment workers on the outskirts of the capital Phnom Penh on Friday, leaving several people wounded, according to an AFP photographer.

The clash comes against a backdrop of growing public protests against the kingdom’s long-ruling Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Police fired warning shots in the air and then fired at the protesters, leaving at least three people injured, the photographer saw.
It is the latest in a series of violent clashes between security forces and textile workers demanding higher wages.
The incident happened after thousands of workers blocked the road in front of factories and later faced off with security personnel in the Veng Sreng area of Phnom Penh.
to read.
theNATIONnew

* Human Rights activists and workers ask to release arrested protesters:

Human rights activists and workers gathered at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to demand the release of 10 protesters who were arrested yesterday.

Vorn Pov, Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDIEA) and nine other protesters were arrested for allegedly provoking violence in a strike at a Korean-owned Yakjin (Cambodia) on Thursday.
After their arrests, human rights groups and political party condemned the crackdown by authorities.
Brigadier General Kheng Tito, military police spokesman, could not make any comment over the charges against the arrested protesters, saying that “he charges are dependent on the court”.
Kem Sokha, Deputy President of Cambodia National Rescue Party, was also found outside the Phnom Penh Court. He called for the release of the arrested protesters.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodia’s GMAC says factory closures continue due to ongoing strikes:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said Thursday most of its 559 factories would continue to be closed due to security concerns after six pro-opposition trade unions led striking workers to destroy factories’ properties and forced workers to join their protests.

“Because of the current unrest and danger in the garment sector, the GMAC has requested the Labor Ministry to suspend the productions in these factories indefinitely,”GMAC’s Secretary General Ken Loo wrote in a request to Labor Minister Ith Samheng.
read more.
globaltimes

* Cambodia’s garment workers stand firm as sector reels:

One of Chenda’s biggest hopes is that she might one day make enough money to bring her daughter back to the Capital.

When the Cambodian government and unions began discussing a rise in the minimum wage for garment workers last month, she believed her six-year-old, currently living with grandparents in a neighbouring province, might be able to return home.
“I really want to bring my daughter to town, but we just can’t afford to spend money for someone to look after her,” said the 34-year-old.
When the Ministry of Labour announced they would be bumping up the $80 minimum monthly wage by only $15, Chenda, like many of her colleagues, was deeply disappointed.
read more.
Return to frontpage

Cambodia says outlawed strikes adversely affect investment climate:

Cambodian Ministry of Labor said Friday that outlawed strikes have frightened employers and worsened investment climate in the country.

“The ministry calls for the (opposition) Cambodia National Rescue Party and six trade unions to immediately stop inciting workers to commit violence, road blockade, and destruction of factories’ properties,” said a Labor Ministry’s statement, urging them to cooperate with the authorities in order to find out perpetrators.
read more.
globaltimes

* Cambodia’s garments to ship piece by piece:

Cambodia’s garment manufacturers might sell fabrics from unfinished clothing orders worth millions of dollars to factories offshore in a last-ditch attempt to meet looming buyer deadlines.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) issued a letter to the Cambodian government yesterday requesting it to “facilitate” exports of unfinished orders to other countries amid continued garment-worker strike action.

The letter calls on the Ministry of Economy and Finance to clarify and advise factory owners on “re-exporting” procedures.
This means that stockpiles of whole fabric and cut fabric pieces, as well as accessories, semi-finished and unpacked finished products would be shipped out to a buyer’s other manufacturing operations in the region.
read more.
PPP new

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 20140104

* Military police storm Freedom Park:

Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders are holed up at their party headquarters in the capital’s Meanchey district after authorities forcefully evicted opposition demonstrators from Freedom Park today.

Amid rumours that the government intends to arrest key opposition and union figures, CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua said the party’s lawmakers-elect had gathered in solidarity in its office – close to the Ministry of Interior.
“I don’t think it [the arrest warrants] is a rumour,” she said. “I think it is a reality. “It’s a matter of time, [but] I have no idea [what the government is accusing us of]. How would I? We’ve done nothing wrong.”
When called for comment, Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Chiv Keng, pled ignorant of any warrants.

Negotiations with the government, meanwhile – originally planned for yesterday, but nixed by the opposition following a violent crackdown against garment workers and monks – appear to be off the table altogether now, Sochua added.
“[Interior Minister] Sar Kheng said he no longer wants to communicate with Mr. Rainsy,” she said.

Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said he had moved to an undisclosed area on the outskirts of the capital.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said of the crackdown in Freedom Park. “I don’t know what their plan is. But this is their own fear.”
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodia clears protest park after deadly clashes:

Cambodian security guards and city workers, watched over by riot police, dismantled a camp occupied by anti-government demonstrators on Saturday, a day after a bloody crackdown on garment factory workers allied with the protest movement.

Friday’s clashes, during which police shot dead four people, have stoked a political crisis in which striking workers and supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) are challenging a government they say cheated its way to power and is depriving them of a fair wage.

Despite the crackdown, CNRP leader Sam Rainsy vowed that a mass march and rally planned for Sunday would go ahead. Rainsy also condemned the violence and demanded a thorough investigation.
Hundreds of CNRP supporters have been camped since December 15 in tents around a stage in Freedom Park, the only place in Phnom Penh where protests are allowed.

Unions representing garment workers want better pay and support CNRP’s demands for a re-run of an election in July it says was rigged to allow long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen to remain in power.
Friday’s clashes took place at Canadia Industrial Park, also in Phnom Penh, which is home to dozens of factories that make clothing for Western brands such as Adidas, Puma and H&M Hennes & Mauritz.
read more.
reuters

Peaceful Protesters Expelled from Freedom Park as Military Mobilization Escalates:

This morning state forces put a violent end to CNRP supporters’ long-standing occupation of Freedom Park, also known as Democracy Plaza, an area in central Phnom Penh specifically designated for protest.

This action follows two days of violence, which included the shooting yesterday at the Canadia industrial zone which left at least four civilians dead and dozens wounded.

The violence began at around 11.00 this morning when hundreds of police and military police blocked roads surrounding Freedom Park and rapidly and without warning moved in to clear the park of protesters. As they approached, the residing protesters, many of whom were monks or women with their children fled in fear leaving behind their belongings. The forces were accompanied by hundreds of thuggish civilians wearing red arm bands who used metre-long steel poles to beat and intimidate the peaceful protesters. Once the park was clear of people, they and the uniformed forces tore down the stage as well as temporary structures that had been built to provide shelter to protesters, destroyed a Buddhist shrine and wrecked audio equipment belonging to the CNRP.

LICADHO staff, as well as journalists and workers from other NGOS, who were attempting to document the events and provide help to protesters, were threatened by the thugs and prevented from entering the park while the destruction took place.
read more.
licadho

* Cambodia strike faces deadly crackdown:

Garment workers making clothes for export have been killed by security forces as they protested for higher wages.

As hundreds of heavily-armed military police began moving in to quell protesting garment workers Friday morning, Neang Davin looked on nervously.

“Last night I didn’t join anything, I was just driving my motorbike and stopped to watch. The police arrived, they didn’t ask anything, they just went in and began beating us,” said Davin, leaning on a bamboo stick for support. “Even though we ran into the market, we weren’t confronting them; they just went in and started beating us. They hit me on the back with a baton.”

Clashes between police and protesters that began after midnight Friday on the outskirts of Phnom Penh escalated Saturday morning leaving at least four shot dead and 23 seriously injured.

While the government lay the blame at the feet of protesters who pushed back security forces with rocks, Molotov cocktails and homemade weapons, none of those injured were police, admitted Military Police Spokesman Kheng Tito.

Instead, it was striking workers and bystanders who bore the brunt of an unusually harsh retaliation by police who appear to have grown weary of peacefully breaking up the protests that have roiled Phnom Penh for the past week.

Garment worker woes
On December 24, workers began striking en masse after the government announced it would be raising the minimum wage from $80 a month to $95 – an offer that fell far short of unions call for $160 a month. By the time the Ministry of Labour caved a week later and agreed to an extra $5 a month boost, the genie was out of the bottle. Years of chronic underpayment and poor working conditions had pushed at least half of the nation’s estimated 600,000 workers into the streets.
read more.
aljazeera

* Police Kill 5 During Clash With Demonstrators:

Five people were shot dead and more than 20 injured, most suffering gunshot wounds, when military police officers opened fire with AK-47 assault rifles during clashes with protesters armed with stones, sticks and crude Molotov cocktails on Veng Sreng Street in the heart of the garment factory zone in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on Friday.

Local rights group Licadho said the killings represent “the worst State violence against civilians” in 15 years, and is the single worst incident ever to hit the country’s key garment industry, which employs some 600,000 people in hundreds of mostly foreign-owned firms.

The deaths and injuries cap more than a week of mostly peaceful protests as tens of thousands of garment factory workers have gone on strike to press their demands for a wage of $160 per month.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia Must Investigate Protest Killings by Security Forces:

Cambodian authorities must hold security forces to account for today’s killing of at least four people at a protest by garment workers that turned violent in the capital Phnom Penh, Amnesty International said.

“Today’s tragic violence must be investigated and those responsible for deaths and injuries held to account,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Cambodia researcher. “The Cambodian government has to rein in its security forces. Today’s events sadly echo other recent incidents – on at least four occasions in the past few months, security forces have used unnecessary or excessive force, including live ammunition, against protesters and bystanders.

“As with so many human rights violations in Cambodia, the lack of accountability for these incidents is a reminder of the pervasive culture of impunity in the country. There must be root and branch change to ensure the perpetrators of violations are brought to book.”
read more.
amnesty-international-logo

* Court Charges Protesters as Supporters, Police Scuffle Outside:

About 300 military police on Friday cleared demonstrators outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court who were demanding the release of 10 protest leaders detained since a bloody clash with paratroopers on Thursday.

The protesters, who numbered at most 250 and included monks, had closed off Monireth Boulevard with speaker-mounted tuk-tuks at both the front of the court and at the road’s intersection with Sihanouk Boulevard.
As court officials inside began proceedings to charge the detained protesters, including striking garment factory workers, rights activists and union officials, those outside took turns to harangue the court over a loudspeaker.

About 150 military police soon emerged from the adjacent Olympic Stadium and formed a police line next to the tuk-tuk blockade, at times arguing with monks who approached them but otherwise remaining calm.
At 9 a.m., CNRP vice president Kem Sokha arrived and told the crowd that the 10 detained protesters were not criminals but victims of military brutality.

Five monks, striking garment workers, union leaders and journalists were beaten on Thursday as soldiers from the elite 911 paratrooper unit broke up a protest of workers striking for a higher minimum wage in Pur Senchey district.
“If you arrest the union leaders and garment workers, you must also arrest the police and military police who beat up the workers,” Mr. Sokha shouted to the crowd.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Security Guards, Police Forcibly Clear Freedom Park:

20140104 CD

At 11:30 a.m. Saturday, security guards, men in plainclothes and municipal police, all wielding steel bars and metal pipes, forcibly cleared hundreds of demonstrators from Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, where the opposition CNRP has been protesting against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen for three straight weeks.

Demonstrators, including monks and women, were indiscriminately beaten as they ran away.
The move by the CPP government came one day after its security forces shot dead at least five, and injured more than 20, protesting garment workers, armed with stones, sticks and crude Molotov cocktails, during clashes in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district.
City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said the park had to be cleared to restore public order in the capital city, which has been host to daily protests marches and mass demonstrations in recent weeks.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Police disperse opposition rally after deadly clashes:

Anti-riot police forces, armed with shields and batons, dispersed opposition’s supporters from their protest base at the Freedom Park on Saturday.

The measure was taken after Phnom Penh governor Pa Socheatvong sent a letter to opposition leader Sam Rainsy to inform him that the rally at the Freedom Park can not be allowed any more because of risky situation.
The Phnom Penh authority banned the opposition’s rally after there were deadly clashes yesterday, killing at least four protesters.
At the site, the police removed the tents and evicted the supporters of Cambodia National Rescue Party from the Freedom Park.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Phnom Penh Municipality calls on factory workers to return to work:

The Phnom Penh municipality, on 3 January, appealed to factory workers to return to work as usual as many workers left Phnom Penh due to fear after violent clash between the military police and angry protesters, killing four people.

In its statement, the Phnom Penh Municipality said talks between the Government, Garment Manufacturers in Cambodia (GMAC) and the Worker Unions will resume to talks on the minimum wage demand.
In its statement, the municipality stated that the clashes stemmed from the incitement by politicians and not factory workers. The municipality also rationalized its last resort crack-down due to high risk of the violent incident.
Yesterday’s clash was the third and most serious clashes since the last July election.
After the clash, many workers were seen to take the buses back home for fear of security and safety.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* King requested to convene CPP, CNRP leaders for a summit to end crisis after deadly protest crackdown:

Independent analysts requested the Cambodian King to invite the leaders of Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to a negotiation table to end the political tension following yesterday’s violent crackdown, which killed at least four protesters.

The three Cambodian independent analysts are Dr. Lao Monghai, Dr. Sok Touch and Dr. Kem Ley, who wrote a joint letter yesterday to propose His Majesty the King to invite the leaders of the CPP and CNRP to a negotiation table at a convenient time under the King’s presidency.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Bloody crackdown: UN condemns live fire, asks to bring violence instigators to justice:

The United Nations on Friday condemned the use of live fire against protesters and also urge authorities to bring instigators of violence to justice.

The UN made the statement following a heavy-handed crackdown on protesters yesterday, killing at least four protesters and injuring 30 others.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* EU calls for dispute parties to return to negotiation table after deadly crackdown:

The European Unions expressed its concern and called for peaceful talks to end violence, which killed at least four people in a heavy-handed crackdown yesterday.

“The Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia is very concerned by the violent demonstrations occurring in the vicinity of Phnom Penh over two days and regrets the disproportionate and excessive use of force by the security personnel, which resulted in the loss of lives,”
read more.
CAMHERALD

* US urges ‘restraint’ in Cambodia after violence:

The United States on Friday appealed for peaceful dialogue and denounced violence in Cambodia after police opened fire on protesting garment workers, killing three people.

“The United States deeply regrets the recent loss of life in Cambodia during violent clashes between protesters and government security forces,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodia bans opposition’s protests, citing security concerns:

Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Pa Socheatvong on Saturday banned the country’s main opposition party from holding any protests in the capital, citing security concerns.

“To ensure social security and public order, the Phnom Penh Municipality decides not to allow the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) to continue holding demonstrations at the Freedom Park and marching through streets in the city from Jan. 4 onwards until the security situation has returned to normal,” Pa Socheatvong said in a letter to CNRP’s President Sam Rainsy.

He said in recent days, inciting activities have led to violence that claimed lives and caused severe destruction to public and private properties.
“These violent activities have seriously affected social security, safety and public order,” he said.
Security forces have been sent to the Freedom Park on Saturday morning to disperse opposition’s protesters. As a result, all protesters were kicked out of the park.
read more. & read more.
globaltimes FE bd

* Khmer Kill Khmer…:

2013 Elections Aftermath
Striking workers who pulled up barricades on Veng Sreng road defying armed forces before being brutally dispersed, resulting in at least 3 dead, one badly injured and 3 confirmed arrests.

At least 3 people were shot dead and several were severely injured by hundreds of bullets fired by armed forces during a brutal crackdown in the morning of January 3rd on barricades set up by thousands of striking workers on Veng Sren road, in the industrial area of Phnom Penh.

Several others were arrested and subsequently tasered, beaten up or beaten unconscious.
see more. (photo report).
JohnVink

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 20140105

* Cambodian Authorities! End Brutal Repression Immediately! :

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance strongly condemns the use of extreme force, violence and arrest to quell garment workers strike in Cambodia on January 2nd and 3rd, 2014.  The garment workers’ strike is a legitimate expression of the desperation of garment workers who are crushed under poverty level wages.

The violent crackdown on striking workers by a military special command unit and the consequent violent arrest of union leaders, garment workers and supporters, causing 3 deaths is shocking and absolutely acceptable.  Desperate poverty has to be ended by the payment of living wages and cannot be ended through violence.

We, the international community, call upon the Cambodian authorities to release unconditionally those who are being arrested and detained for exercising their rights to participate in peaceful assembly. We call upon brands and retailers such as H&M, Adidas, GAP, and Walmart to act swiftly to support the implementation of USD 160 minimum wage in Cambodia.

The violent crackdown on the peaceful strike of garment workers and unions in Cambodia is a shameful example of how garment workers are brutalized by the forces of poverty, global garment brands’ greed and state-sponsored repression. This is against the treasured international human right of Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining.  Cambodia as the signatory to the ILO’s Convention on Freedom of Association is bound by the ILO Convention. The attack on the peaceful strikers and the ongoing violence and imprisonment are absolutely unacceptable by the international community.

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance supports the demand for the implementation of USD 160 as minimum wage in Cambodia.  We support USD 160 as the wage that can provide minimal dignity to Cambodian workers, and not the poverty wage of USD 100.

We call upon key brands and retailers such as H&M, Adidas, GAP, and Walmart to act swiftly to support the implementation of USD 160 minimum wage in Cambodia. They must show their commitment to bear the share in their supply chains so that garment workers in Cambodia are able to receive a minimally dignified wage.
On Behalf of Asia Floor Wage Alliance
ASIAFLOORWAGE

* After Park Cleared, CNRP Leaders Called to Court:

Saturday, municipal security guards and men in plainclothes, wielding steel bars, metal pipes, batons, sticks and axes, forcibly cleared hundreds of demonstrators from Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, where the opposition CNRP has been protesting against the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen for three straight weeks.

Demonstrators, including monks and women, were indiscriminately beaten as they ran away.
The move by the CPP government came one day after its security forces shot dead at least five, and injured more than 20, protesting garment workers, who were armed with stones, sticks and crude Molotov cocktails, during clashes in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Military police storm Freedom Park:

Cambodia National Rescue Party leaders are holed up at their party headquarters in the capital’s Meanchey district after authorities forcefully evicted opposition demonstrators from Freedom Park today.

Amid rumours that the government intends to arrest key opposition and union figures, CNRP lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua said the party’s lawmakers-elect had gathered in solidarity in its office – close to the Ministry of Interior.
“I don’t think it [the arrest warrants] is a rumour,” she said. “I think it is a reality. “It’s a matter of time, [but] I have no idea [what the government is accusing us of]. How would I? We’ve done nothing wrong.”
When called for comment, Phnom Penh Municipal Court president Chiv Keng, pled ignorant of any warrants.

Negotiations with the government, meanwhile – originally planned for yesterday, but nixed by the opposition following a violent crackdown against garment workers and monks – appear to be off the table altogether now, Sochua added.
“[Interior Minister] Sar Kheng said he no longer wants to communicate with Mr. Rainsy,” she said.

Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said he had moved to an undisclosed area on the outskirts of the capital.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said of the crackdown in Freedom Park. “I don’t know what their plan is. But this is their own fear.”
read more.
PPP new

* Democracy unraveling:

see video report.
PPP new

* Cambodia clears protest park after deadly clashes:

Cambodian security guards and city workers, watched over by riot police, dismantled a camp occupied by anti-government demonstrators on Saturday, a day after a bloody crackdown on garment factory workers allied with the protest movement.

Friday’s clashes, during which police shot dead four people, have stoked a political crisis in which striking workers and supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) are challenging a government they say cheated its way to power and is depriving them of a fair wage.

Despite the crackdown, CNRP leader Sam Rainsy vowed that a mass march and rally planned for Sunday would go ahead. Rainsy also condemned the violence and demanded a thorough investigation.
Hundreds of CNRP supporters have been camped since December 15 in tents around a stage in Freedom Park, the only place in Phnom Penh where protests are allowed.

Unions representing garment workers want better pay and support CNRP’s demands for a re-run of an election in July it says was rigged to allow long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen to remain in power.
Friday’s clashes took place at Canadia Industrial Park, also in Phnom Penh, which is home to dozens of factories that make clothing for Western brands such as Adidas, Puma and H&M Hennes & Mauritz.
read more.
reuters

Peaceful Protesters Expelled from Freedom Park as Military Mobilization Escalates:

This morning state forces put a violent end to CNRP supporters’ long-standing occupation of Freedom Park, also known as Democracy Plaza, an area in central Phnom Penh specifically designated for protest.

This action follows two days of violence, which included the shooting yesterday at the Canadia industrial zone which left at least four civilians dead and dozens wounded.

The violence began at around 11.00 this morning when hundreds of police and military police blocked roads surrounding Freedom Park and rapidly and without warning moved in to clear the park of protesters. As they approached, the residing protesters, many of whom were monks or women with their children fled in fear leaving behind their belongings. The forces were accompanied by hundreds of thuggish civilians wearing red arm bands who used metre-long steel poles to beat and intimidate the peaceful protesters. Once the park was clear of people, they and the uniformed forces tore down the stage as well as temporary structures that had been built to provide shelter to protesters, destroyed a Buddhist shrine and wrecked audio equipment belonging to the CNRP.

LICADHO staff, as well as journalists and workers from other NGOS, who were attempting to document the events and provide help to protesters, were threatened by the thugs and prevented from entering the park while the destruction took place.
read more.
licadho

* Military Police Are Killing the Cambodians Who Make Your Clothes:

Four people were killed and 21 more injured in Cambodia this morning, when police opened fire with AK-47s into a group of protesters. The deaths come after months of tension and escalating violence between the authorities and garment workers, who are demanding higher wages.

Things came to a head on Thursday evening, when a police battalion in Phnom Penh were beaten back from an apartment block that had been seized by protesters during a day of demonstrations. By this morning, the military cops were engaged in a standoff on Veng Sreng Boulevard—one of the main roads out of the Cambodian capital—and the makeup of their opponents was a curious one. The factory workers, 90 percent of whom are women, had at some point been replaced by groups of metal pole- and machete-wielding young men, gathered together behind rows of Molotov cocktails.

At some point, the military police chose to respond to a barrage of rocks, bricks, and flaming bottles with gunfire. A nearby clinic that had refused to help the injured was ransacked. One of the injured was a pregnant woman who had been trying to escape the chaos.
read more.
VICE

$160

20140106

* Five Killed During Protest Confirmed as Garment Workers:

The five people killed by AK-47 gunfire from military police at a protest along Pur Senchey district’s Veng Sreng Street on Friday were all striking garment factory workers, a union official confirmed Sunday.

Military police officers opened fire on the factory-lined street on Friday morning during clashes with striking workers armed with sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails, killing five men and injuring at least 30 people.

An investigating team from the independent Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (CCAWDU) has since identified the five confirmed killed by military police as garment factory workers, CCAWDU legal officer Oum Visal said.

Mr. Visal added that 35 other garment factory workers, as well as two students, had also been identified by CCAWDU in its rounds of three Phnom Penh hospitals as having been injured on Veng Sreng Street.

The hospitals surveyed by CCAWDU, which Mr. Visal said will release the full findings of its investigation today, were the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, Calmette Hospital and Preah Kossamak Hospital.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* After Clashes, Garment Workers Flee Veng Sreng Street:

The few remaining residents of Phnom Penh’s garment factory-lined Veng Sreng Street, where government forces armed with assault rifles shot dead five striking workers on Friday, said Sunday that most workers had since fled in fear for their lives.

Battlefield soldiers from the military’s Brigade 70 unit in trucks and machine-gun-mounted jeeps patrolled the stretch of road over the weekend, as overflowing green minivans ferried workers to the safety of their family homes in the provinces.

Khieu Khorn, 56, who owns a three-story residential building that military police attempted to storm on Friday, said that the 43 garment workers who rented rooms from him had all returned to their family homes since the end of the violence.

“I don’t think many are going to come back to even collect their salaries,” Mr. Khorn said. “Most believe that if they come back, the government may shoot at them again.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Many garment factories resume work:

Many garment factories along Veng Sreng street resume their operations on Monday, three days after deadly clashes.

The Veng Sreng Street was re-opened for traffic and many workers were seen going to work even though the some shops and restaurants remain closed.

Military Police and vehicles were seen being deployed in front of Canadia Industrial Park where the violence took place last Friday, leaving five people dead, some 37 people injured, and 13 arrested.

The Cambodian government announced Veng Sreng Street as dangerous location after the deadly clashes.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Rong Chhun summoned to appear at court for allegedly provoking social unrest:

Phnom Penh Municipal Court summoned Rong Chhun, President of Cambodian Confederation of Unions, to appear at court for being questioned on January 14 after deadly clashes on Veng Sreng Street last week.

Rong Chhun, also President of Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, was accused of inciting crimes and social unrest.
He was one of the six union leaders who led nation-wide strikes to increase the minimum wage from USD 80 to USD160 before the clashes. All of them are now going into hiding.
The court also summoned opposition party leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha to appear at court on January 14 for being questioned on the clashes.
The clash toke place last Friday and left five people dead, and 37 others injured.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Exodus follows violent clash:

Garment workers have begun leaving the area surrounding embattled Veng Sreng street en masse, following the outbreak of clashes early on Friday morning.

An estimated 80 per cent of the more than 10,000 workers who live and are employed in the Meanchey district suburb have vacated their homes, said Som Aun, president of the government’s Cambodian Council of National Unions (CCNU).

“As far as I know, the workers at other factories did not return to their hometowns, but the workers living on Veng Sreng street and near Canadia park left their rental homes out of fear,” he said.
read more.
PPP new

* Picking up the pieces:

The sight of traffic moving easily and people milling about along Veng Sreng Boulevard in the capital’s Meanchey district yesterday was a far cry from two days earlier, when the street was occupied by makeshift roadblocks, bonfires and military personnel carrying automatic rifles.

While visible evidence of the deadly crackdown on a garment worker strike near the Canadia Industrial Park on Friday – which claimed the lives of at least four – and attacks on pro-opposition demonstrators in Freedom Park on Saturday had largely disappeared, the unprecedented violence remained all too real for those affected.

“I was very scared when authorities cracked down and opened fire,” So Sambath, 20, said as he lay in the intensive care unit of Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital with a bullet wound in his stomach. “Maybe I won’t return to work if protests continue, because I’m afraid they will open fire again.”

Demonstrations at the industrial park over the minimum wage began peacefully on Thursday, witnesses said, though Post reporters on site said that hours before police arrived, the road had been partially blocked and more than a half-dozen bonfires lit.

After an initial encounter that saw law enforcement officials beat demonstrators and go as far as chase some into their homes, police withdrew, only to return in greater numbers, and with deadly force, hours later.

Rights group Licadho yesterday confirmed that, according to their tally, at least four men were killed, three of whom were garment workers.

Pheng Kosal, a 24-year-old garment worker, Yean Rithy, a 24-year-old garment worker and father of one, and Kim Polin, 29, all died from gunshot wounds at the Khmer-Soviet hospital on Friday, according to Licadho. Korng Ravy, a 25-year-old factory worker and father of two, died at Calmette Hospital after being shot on Friday.
read more.
PPP new

* Canadia park, a ghost town:

On most Sundays, the wide boulevard separating two rows of some 40 mustard-coloured factories in the Canadia Industrial Park is teeming with people.

Garment workers who live on the premises stroll or bicycle along the road, stopping to eat at the same restaurants, patronizing the same stores. For businesses lucky enough to be in Canadia’s microcosm of an economy, the 13,000 workers in the park have translated into a steady stream of revenue. But all that changed on Friday, when garment workers—many of whom held jobs at one of Canadia’s factories—clashed with military police and riots cops outside the park on Veng Sreng road.

The bloody altercation was part of an ongoing labour strike that started almost two weeks ago, when workers walked off the job after the government refused to raise minimum wages to $160.
read more.
PPP new

* GMAC Defends Use of Force Against Striking Workers:

A senior member of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) on Sunday endorsed the use of deadly force by military police against striking garment workers, which left five dead and more than 20 with gunshot wounds.

Military police opened fire indiscriminately when they were pelted with rocks by hundreds of garment factory protesters on Veng Sreng Street in the city’s Pur Senchey district, where thousands of workers are on strike for a raise in the minimum wage.

The protesters had set up barricades on the road and had made crude, mostly ineffective Molotov cocktails.
While one local rights group called the killings the worst case of state violence against civilians in 15 years, GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo said Sunday that the authorities had responded appropriately.

“GMAC condemns the use of violence, period,” he said. “However, I think that the police had to respond to break up the rioters, and the rioters were not responding to verbal warnings.”
Mr. Loo said the military police were in the right to open fire on the protesters.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Violent response to strike for increased minimum wage:

A nationwide strike in Cambodia to increase the minimum wage from USD 80 to USD 160 started on 24 December and ended nearly two weeks later in violence and killings.

Following a government decision to increase the existing minimum wage of USD 80 with USD 15, strikes erupted around Cambodia. Workers had demanded that the minimum wage should be raised to USD 160.

On the 2 and 3 January the demonstrations took a violent turn when protesters and rights activists were arrested. As Royal Police and striking workers clashed, four people were shot dead and 37 more were seriously injured.
Arrest warrants have been issued for the trade union leaders supporting the strikes, including leaders of IndustriALL Global Union affiliates.Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL’s general secretary, strongly condemns the violence and persecution of trade union representatives:
Killing and injuring workers is wholly unacceptable and must end immediately! IndustriALL fully stands behind the Cambodian workers’ demands for a living wage of USD 160. The 15 dollar increase proposed by the government is shameful.
to read.
Home

* Global Union Bodies Demand Justice for Cambodian Workers:

Workers had been demonstrating peacefully demanding an increase in the minimum wage.

At least four workers were killed and 39 injured during a crackdown by security forces on Friday. Trade unionists and labour rights supporters have been targeted for attack as workers demanded a minimum wage above the government offer of US$100 per month, which is woefully insufficient to meet the rising cost of living. Over 23 have been arrested, their whereabouts unknown, and summonses have been issued for several union leaders.

“Cambodia’s government must return to the negotiating table and agree to a fair wage for garment workers and cease the dictatorial repression of legitimate strike action by workers. It should immediately release all those detained, and ensure that those responsible for the killings and violence are brought to justice,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of IndustriALL, said “The right to strike for a higher minimum wage is solidly protected by the international right to freedom of association, enshrined in ILO Convention 87 – which Cambodia ratified in 1999. The threats, arrests, and the killing of trade unionists for the exercise of that right is an extremely grave violation and must be condemned. Any encouragement of that violence by garment manufacturers must end. ”
read more. & read more. & ITUC letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen
ITUC CSI IGB   Home

* Mr Hun Sen: Stop the Brutal Suppression of Workers and Trade Unions in Cambodia:

Support Cambodian working people who have been struggling for their rights.

The Cambodian government has been violently suppressing the legitimate strike organised and participated by the majority of garment, textile and footwear workers demanding higher minimum wage.

Numerous media reports confirmed that the use of excessive force of the police and armed forces brutally killed at least four workers and severely injured 23 workers and supporters between 2nd and 3rd January 2014.
We have been informed that many arrests were made by authorities as well and 10 workers are under police and army custody up to date.
It is very unfortunate that it was the government not the workers who initiated the violent clash between security forces and strikers.
read more and please sign.
ATNC

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* For families of 23 arrested: silence:

20140107 PPP 3-Arrests-Garment-Workers
Seven men detained by military police lay on the ground with their hands bound at the scene of deadly clashes on Veng Sreng Boulevard on Friday. RFA

When Prak Sovanny asked prosecutors where she could find her husband, detained since his arrest at a protest on Thursday, they told her to ask police. When she inquired with police, they insisted that prosecutors, not police, had that information.

Sovanny’s husband, Vorn Pao, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), is one of 23 people arrested last week when police cracked down on demonstrations supporting a nationwide garment worker strike. But days after their arrest, which came amid a police shooting that killed at least four, the families of those imprisoned remain unable to contact their loved ones.

“We see the Cambodian government, at the moment, is going away from rule of law,” said Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, noting that defendants have a legal right to contact their families. “There is no rule of law; they just claim rule of law.”

The 23 defendants are believed to be at Correctional Centre 3 in Kampong Cham, according to Tola – who said CC3’s chief confirmed this to an associate Tola declined to name – and rights group Licadho, which called the facility “one of the harshest prisons in Cambodia”.
read more.
PPP new

* Minister ‘too busy’ to sit down with unions:

The Ministry of Labour yesterday postponed a planned Wednesday sit-down with the leaders of five union groups participating in a nationwide garment worker strike, saying Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng is too busy.

Signed by the ministry’s Secretary of State Oum Mean, the brief notice was sent to Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) president Ath Thorn, Free Trade Union (FTU) president Chea Mony, Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) president Pav Sina, National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC) president Morm Nhim and Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions president Yang Sophorn.
read more.
PPP new

* Prominent Union Leader rejects talks on minimum wage with government:

Mr. Chea Mony, President of Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia (FTUWC) announced today that he would not attend the meeting on January 8 as convened by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training , arguing that the meeting would be useless as one of the five Union leaders was put under pressure through legal lawsuit, which is a threat against the Unions’ legal rights.

The statement signed by Chea Mony today said that both Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training should allow workers to go off from work for a while without deducting their wage so as to avoid eventual violence which may affect the workers’ lives and property as a result of authority’s suppression.

On 3 January 2014, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training invited the leaders of the 5 Unions, including Mr. Chea Mony, Mr. Pav Sina, Mrs. Mam Nhem and Mrs. Yang Sophorn who have been staging protest for a minimum wage of USD 160 to join a meeting on 8 January 2014.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Video: Workers & Political Activists under Attack in Cambodia:

Year 2014 has opened to a sustained campaign of violence and arrests in Cambodia. This video looks back at events which occurred on January 2,3, and 4, 2014.
See Video report.
licadho

* Flouting Law, Government Holds Protest Prisoners Incognito:

Police and prison officials are refusing to disclose the whereabouts of more than 20 people, including union leaders and political activists, who were arrested during protests late last week, family members of the detained and rights workers said Monday.

Twenty-three protesters were charged with the destruction of property under aggravating circumstances after protests by striking garment factory workers were suppressed by military police on Thursday and Friday.

Moeun Tola, head of labor affairs at the Community Legal Education Center, said a team of defense lawyers from his organization had also been repeatedly denied access to or information about the prisoners, including a 17-year-old who was arrested at Veng Sreng.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Police Block, Search Garment Workers’ Vans in Svay Rieng:

Local police in Svay Rieng province Sunday and Monday set up checkpoints along National Road 1 to stop and search vans carrying garment workers back to Phnom Penh from their home villages.

Has Naly, deputy police chief in Svay Teap district, said police had set up the checkpoints to search workers’ cars for weapons because they were worried the workers would stage another protest over the minimum wage.
“We didn’t stop them from traveling, but we checked their vans to see if they had any weapons,” he said.
“We were worried they would bring them to a demonstration. We wanted to know company names, their positions and the identities of the workers,” Mr. Naly said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Global labour movement shows solidarity with Cambodia:

At least four Cambodian workers were killed on Friday, and more than 39 others were wounded, when police in Phnom Penh opened fire on a crowd of protesters demanding higher wages.

In addition, at least 23 people have been arrested; their whereabouts remain unknown.
Human rights organisations describe the incident as the worst state violence against civilians in more than a decade.
According to witnesses on the ground, AK-47 rifles were used by armed forces to quell the demonstration.
In an interview with the French news agency AFP, a military police spokesman, Kheng Tito, justified the crackdown, saying nine policemen had been injured by violent protesters. He also said if the strikes were to continue, the situation would turn into “anarchy”.
read more.
EQUALtimes

* ICC complaint to lay shootings at PM’s feet:

The Cambodia National Rescue Party is preparing to file a complaint to the International Criminal Court against Prime Minister Hun Sen over the deadly violence against striking factory workers last week.

CNRP deputy president Kem Sokha told reporters yesterday that the party was working with the families of those killed when riot police on Friday opened fire on workers gathered at Veng Streng Boulevard in the capital’s Meanchey district.
“We are preparing the procedure, and we have enough international lawyers to do this work,” Kem Sokha said, without elaborating.
He added he believed enough evidence had been amassed to sue Hun Sen at the court.
read more.
PPP new

* Wage fight ‘to wound’ key sector:

Garment factories lost out on some $200 million in profits and another $70 million that should have been invested in production since workers walked out on December 25 in a strike for higher wages, according to Van Sou Ieng, president of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia.

Speaking at a presentation yesterday in Phnom Penh Hotel, Ieng said that in addition to missed profits, orders will go down 20 to 30 per cent this year, factories will have to rush through shipments to meet deadlines by using expensive air-freight options, and Cambodia will be thought of as high-risk by global brands, which will reduce prices.

“Now the factories are trying to recover from lost production time to deliver, and I am 80 per cent sure that no factory is making money because all will be shipped by air,” said Ieng, who appeared emotional over the crisis. “Over six months or four months, all the factories will lose money.
read more.
PPP new

* Garment Strike Cost Industry $200 Million, GMAC Says:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said Monday that the recent weeks of labor unrest have cost the industry $200 million and international buyers would likely cut clothing orders by up to 30 percent this year, while the killing of five strike protesters was dismissed as “collateral damage.”

Capping off a week of strikes and protests by garment workers demanding a doubling of the sector’s monthly minimum wage to $160, military police shot dead five and wounded more than 20 outside a Phnom Penh factory on Friday.

Condemned by human rights groups, the U.N. and foreign governments, GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo on Sunday said the military police’s lethal response to the stone-throwers was “absolutely” appropriate.

At a press conference at the Phnom Penh Hotel on Monday to justify its staunch rejection of the striking workers wage demand, and to call for an end to the strike, GMAC chairman Van Sou Ieng roundly condoned the military police killings, and blamed the deaths on the strikers themselves.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* GMAC worries about departures of investors after labor unrest:

The President of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) warned yesterday that the recent weeks of labor unrest may adversely affect the garment industry in the future.

“If the threat continues, the investors may not dare to invest in Cambodia,” said Van Sou Ieng, GMAC president told a conference yesterday at the Phnom Penh Hotel.
He also said that the garment industry lost USD 200 millions due to recent weeks of unrest, which killed at least five peoples and several days of closure of most of the factories in the Kingdom.
He added wage negotiation has to be held but must be in accordance with law and at a place free of violence/

“Employers agreed to provide USD 95 per month for workers in the last wage talk. However, the government then asked us to increase to USD 100 per month because it wants to help the workers,” he said.
He warned that most of factory employers could not afford if the minimum wage is to increase up to USD 160 per month.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Apparel brands express ‘deep concern’ over Cambodia violence in open letter:

A clutch of popular global clothing and accessories brand names have sent an open letter to Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen and his Cabinet expressing “deep concern” over the violence of last week, when troops fired at rioting garment industry workers killing five and injuring more than 30.

The letter signed by H&M, Gap Inc, Inditex, Puma SE, Adidas Group, Columbia Sportswear Company and Levis Strauss & Co, was also addressed to Cambodian manufacturers and trade unions.

“We strongly oppose all forms of violence,” the letter, a copy of which was emailed to The Straits Times, said.
read more.
ST

* Stop Seeking Compensation for Damages from Cambodian Workers:

Korean companies in Cambodia appear to be preparing to launch a lawsuit against the leader of Cambodia’s opposition party and the labor unions seeking compensation for damages.They claim they have suffered losses reaching $10 million due to disruptions in production and damage to facilities caused by the union’s strike and demonstrations. It is a lawsuit by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), but reports claim that Korean companies are leading such an initiative.
It is inhumane and anti-labor to respond to a poor worker’s request to increase the minimum wage to $160 with a major lawsuit. If it is true that Korean companies are leading such an effort, it is truly embarrassing. It is only right that they stop such an attempt immediately.
read more.
KYUNGHYANGs

China hopes Cambodian parties express demands “legally” after bloody clash:

China called on all parties in Cambodia to express their demands through “legal means” following days of protests in the country.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the comment at a daily news briefing when asked about clashes between Cambodian police and protesters, which left at least four dead on Friday.
“We hope they can solve problems through friendly consultations and maintain social order and peace,” Hua said.
Friday’s garment worker protest on the outskirts of Phnom Penh turned violent. The clash between the protesters and police left four strikers dead, 26 injured and 11 arrested.
read more.
globaltimes

* Military Police Deny Their Bullets Killed Five Protesters:

A spokesman for the military police said Monday that there would be no investigation into the killing of five stone-throwing protesters and the wounding of more than 20 on Friday in Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street, and that the military police had behaved “ethically” when they opened fire.

Brigadier General Kheng Tito said military police—who were witnessed firing AK-47 assault rifles and killing and wounding protesters on official orders—were “very ethical.”
Brig. Gen. Tito also claimed that it was unclear who had shot the five protesters.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Government Finds Deniability in District Security Force:

When the government violently cleared Freedom Park of protesters on Saturday morning, sending in more than a hundred men armed with metal bars and wooden batons, it didn’t use the police.

When a group of five anti-eviction activists were dragged off the street Monday morning and bundled into a van and driven to the Phnom Penh municipal prison, it wasn’t the police either.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia defends deadly crackdown on protests:

Striking workers go back to work as government official says opposition’s actions made police to crack down on protest.

Cambodia’s government has defended its violent crackdown on anti-government protesters and striking garment workers as the ruling party marks what they call the victory day over the Khmer Rouge regime.

“The Cambodian People’s Party will do whatever to defend the constitution and the royal government of Cambodia that was formed through an election,” Heng Samrin, Chairman of the Cambodian National Assembly, said during a ceremony on Tuesday.
read & see more. (video report).
aljazeera

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* Cambodian garment workers dying for a pay rise:

Cambodian workers demanding higher wages to toil in factories making Gap jeans and Nike trainers have found themselves on the frontline of a bloody crackdown on dissent by strongman premier Hun Sen.

Months of peaceful protests by opposition supporters demanding new elections have posed little threat to Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-serving leaders.

But when striking factory workers began to join forces with the opposition, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) responded swiftly with at least four workers shot dead and dozens wounded by security forces.

The tough tactics reflect the potent political force represented by the hundreds of thousands of Cambodian workers who stitch the clothes and footwear worn by many in the West.

“If the two streams of protest had been allowed to merge — political opponents and striking workers — they would have presented a threat of enormous magnitude to the Hun Sen regime,” said Cambodia expert Carl Thayer.
read more. & to read.
CAMHERALD

* Unions Tell Garment Workers to Suspend Strike:

Unions behind last week’s garment factory strikes said their members had largely gone back to work this week, although they have not ruled out resuming protests for a higher minimum wage later this month.

Tens of thousands of workers went on strike starting on December 24 to demand a doubling of the industry’s monthly minimum wage to $160, forcing several of the country’s 500-plus factories to shut down and many more to scale back production.

The strike turned deadly when military police opened fire directly into crowds of stone and petrol bomb-throwing demonstrators outside a Phnom Penh factory on Friday, killing at least five and wounding more than 40.

But as of Monday, some 80 percent of garment workers in Phnom Penh and more than half the workers in the provinces were back at their factories, said Chheng Lang, vice president of the National Independent Federation of Textile Unions in Cambodia (NIFTUC), one of the six unions behind the strikes.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Rights Groups Condemn Killing of Protesters:

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), along with local rights groups Licadho and Adhoc, denounced the Friday shooting of protesting garment workers by police in a joint statement released in Paris on Monday.

“The killing of demonstrators by government authorities is totally unacceptable. The government must use dialogue, not guns and batons, to address workers’ demands and to deal with political dissent,” FIDH president Karim Lahidhi said in the statement.

On Friday morning, military police opened fire on a group of garment factory workers protesting for a higher minimum wage. The protesters had blocked a street in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district and were throwing stones at military police who responded with AK-47 live rounds, killing five people and injuring dozens.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* UN rights office alarmed by Cambodia crackdown:

The United Nations’ human rights office Tuesday said it was alarmed by Cambodia’s crackdown on protests against strongman premier Hun Sen, and urged the authorities to show restraint.

“We are following the situation in Cambodia with serious concern and are deeply alarmed by the disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials in responding to demonstrations,” said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodia garment worker strike unravels:

National strike demanding higher wages has ended after crackdown, but union activists predict continued tension.

An eerie silence came over the Canadia Industrial Park area on the outskirts of Phnom Penh on Friday afternoon, minutes after soldiers fired automatic rifles into crowds of demonstrators supporting a nationwide garment worker strike.

Gunfire killed at least four people and injured dozens more, in an unprecedented crackdown on demonstrators ten days after a coalition of labour unions called for a national strike against Cambodia’s garment factories. The violence followed a Ministry of Labour announcement that the industry’s minimum monthly wage would be raised to $95 in 2014, less than the $160 that unions demanded.
The ministry later modified the decision, upping garment workers’ 2014 minimum wage to $100 per month.

“It’s beyond my belief they would react like that,” Kong Athit, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said of the shootings.
read more.
aljazeera

* South Korea pulled strings as Cambodia’s military cracked down on protesters:

Conspiracy theorists frequently accuse rich countries of “puppeteering” in the developing world, quietly pushing governments to deploy thugs to protect wealthy — and sometime abusive-corporations. 

There is truth to this, but it’s rare to uncover on-the-ground examples of how this string-pulling works.
Cambodia’s current conflict over garment wages provides one such example, GlobalPost has learned.

In recent months, the impoverished Southeast Asian country has been enmeshed in a series of strikes involving garment workers who stitch clothes for Western brands. Workers are demanding a doubling of the minimum wage, saying they can’t live on their current $80 monthly income.
Late last week the government responded with a violent crackdown. Elite units wielding Chinese-made weapons, batons, and steel pipes chased protesters through the streets. Five were killed and dozens were injured.

Although the garments are destined for the US, Europe and Japan, South Korean companies reap much of the financial gain, playing the role of middleman between laborers and Western brands. Korean-owned factories employ legions of low-wage workers, churning out clothing for fashion-hungry markets. In 2012, Seoul was the largest investor in the country with $287 million in projects, beating out its behemoth of a neighbor, China.
read more.
globalpost

* South Korean garment industry urged Cambodia to act on striking workers:

South Korean embassy officials and factory workers had direct contact with the security forces behind the violent dispersal of striking garment factory workers near the Cambodian capital last week.

A possible motivation for the sudden confrontations outside Phnom Penh emerged via a South Korean embassy statement released, and now deleted, on Facebook.
A two-week garment workers’ strike was violently broken by police and military firing into protesting crowds on Friday, leading to the deaths of up to five people.

In a statement released Monday on the Facebook page of the South Korean Embassy in Cambodia, officials detailed pleas to both the ministries in Hun Sen’s ruling government and the key opposition party led by Sam Rainsy.
In a translation obtained by the ABC from its original Korean, the Facebook post, since removed from the site, said embassy staff had actively engaged Cambodian police and military to protect South Korean assets.
read more.
AUSTRnetworkNEWS

* Cambodian Authorities must Reveal Whereabouts of Detainees Immediately:

Family members, lawyers and independent medical professionals have been denied information about the location of detention of 23 people arrested during recent brutal crackdowns in Phnom Penh.

Those arrested include at least three human rights defenders, Vorn Pao, Theng Soveoun and Chan Putisak.

The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC) are calling on authorities to disclose information about their whereabouts and grant immediate access to them.

Since the 23 appeared in court to be charged on Friday and Saturday there has been no news about their location or medical condition Some of those arrested were savagely beaten during their arrest and are in urgent need of medical care. There is one juvenile amongst those held.
Most are young garment factory workers, many under the age of thirty.

“We are extremely concerned for the health and personal safety of all those held,” said Naly Pilorge, LICADHO Director. “Immediate and regular access to families, doctors and lawyers is a key safeguard against torture and ill- treatment. Right now these men have no access to the outside world and in the current climate anything could happen. Authorities need to put an immediate end to this secrecy.”
read more.
CLEC

* Police still mum on protesters:

The whereabouts of 23 people arrested last week during a crackdown on demonstrations in Por Sen Chey district remained unknown yesterday, with prison officials and police refusing to divulge the information to family members and rights groups.

After contacting 18 prisons, the staff at all of which said the prisoners were not in their facilities, rights group Licadho has narrowed down their current location to three prisons, Naly Pilorge, the NGO’s director, said.
Citing “credible information”, Pilorge said the defendants are likely in Correctional Centre 1 in Phnom Penh, Correctional Centre 3 in Kampong Cham or Correctional Centre 4 in Pursat.

Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center’s labour program, said on Monday that the director of CC3 confirmed to an associate that the 23 prisoners were there.
But when asked about the prisoners’ whereabouts yesterday, CC3 chief Chea Vanna would only refer a Post reporter to Kouy Bunson, director of the General Department of Prisons.
Bunson could not be reached.
to read.
PPP new

* Arrested Protesters’ Whereabouts Still Unknown:

Prison and judicial officials on Tuesday continued to conceal the whereabouts of 23 people who were arrested during protests by striking garment workers in Phnom Penh last week, rights workers and a defense lawyer said.

Ten people, including union leaders and political activists, were arrested by soldiers on Thursday. A further 13 were arrested by military police on Friday during the suppression of a protest that saw five striking workers shot dead.

Am Sam Ath, senior investigator with rights group Licadho, said the family and lawyers of those detained were still being refused their requests for any information.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Flash News: Confirmation of 23 detained arrestees held in CC3 Prison:

At 10 am, Sem Sakola, a Phnom Penh investigation judge, called LICADHO lawyers to confirm that six clients arrested and charged during the violent crackdown of garment protesters in the Canadia Industrial Area on Veng Sreng Road last week are being held in CC3 prison.

The six clients include Vorn Pao, president of union Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), Theng Savoeun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer’s Community (CCFC), and Chan Puthisak, a land activist from Boeung Kak Lake.

As well, the CC3 prison director has permitted a LICADHO doctor to treat all 23 individuals this afternoon. CC3 prison is an isolated prison located two hours from Kampong Cham town northeast of the capital, Phnom Penh. As of December 2013, CC3 prison held 1,496 male prisoners.
to read.
licadho

* Garment manufacturers planning to sue unions:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia is helping its members sue several unions for damages after a walkout over demands to raise the minimum wage to $160.

Ken Loo, GMAC’s secretary general, said that more than 150 members are jumping on board to sue: “And the numbers keep on going up.”
The association claims that strikes over wages, which started in late December and are winding down now, cost factories more than $200 million in profits. The six unions at the centre of the dispute are all targets of the legal action. Many did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment.

Hundreds of factories were shuttered during the strike, which reached its nadir when military police killed at least four workers on Friday during a protest outside the Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh.
Loo added that some suits had already been filed, but did not specify amounts of damages sought. GMAC’s plan to sue was discussed on the official page of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions Monday in a post that also claimed South Korean garment manufacturers are backing the suit.

Arrests were made outside a South Korean-owned garment factory on Thursday, and the administrator of Canadia Industrial Park said yesterday that two South Korean companies work in the zone.
read more.
PPP new

* ILO doubts bleak garment outlook:

The International Labour Organization (ILO) yesterday cast doubt on the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia’s (GMAC) bleak outlook for the rest of 2014, after the association claimed that deadly violence sparked by wage disputes would result in clothing brands reducing future orders.

Speaking from Bangkok, Maurizio Bussi with the ILO’s office for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, said that the industry will grow at a sustained pace, and that any financial impact will only be short term, despite GMAC’s numbers.

Cautioning that comparisons between countries are difficult to make, Bussi cited the world’s second-largest garment producing nation, Bangladesh, as a place that had continued to prosper despite major tensions.
read more.
PPP new

* Millions in damages sought:

In the aftermath of violent clashes between authorities and demonstrators last week, business owners in the area have lodged 20 complaints with Por Sen Chey district police, collectively claiming millions of dollars in damages.

In their complaints, owners of factories, shops and other businesses along Veng Sreng Boulevard and near Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, where clashes occurred, blame protesters for the destruction and demand those responsible compensate them for their losses, Por Sen Chey district police chief Yim Sarann said.
“We are working on this and checking on the complaints filed now, before sending them to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for further review,” Sarann said.
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodia’s garment industry faces Bangladesh-like risks:

Cambodia’s garment industry is following in Bangladesh’s footsteps in the way social and political problems are starting to erode a low-cost labor advantage.

o far, the killing of at least four garment wage protesters on Friday by military police has not grabbed international headlines as dramatically as the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. But the potential exists for a larger global outcry as security forces appear to be growing less inhibited about using deadly force. At a minimum, the industry faces ongoing disruptions as political and labor protests grow more intertwined.

Our correspondent in Phnom Penh recently spoke with an International Labor Organization economist, who argued that the factory collapse in Bangladesh was a game-changer for many people in the industry in that social and safety issues became almost as important as things like making deadlines, quality, and wages. “I think Cambodia is just starting to wake up to that issue” of Western labels worried about reputational risk, our correspondent says.

“But after these shootings happened, it’s not like buyers stepped forward and said, ‘That’s it, we’re cancelling three orders from this factory.’” Even when companies do cancel, our correspondent notes, they usually make the decision quietly.
read more. & read more.
MONITORFRONTIERmarkets   FE bd

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* Silence broken at last:

20140109 PPP Arrested-strikers_Military-Police
Men detained by military police lie on the ground with their hands bound at the scene of deadly clashes on Veng Sreng Boulevard on Friday. RFA

Notification that her son is being detained at Correctional Centre 3 in Kampong Cham came as a relief to Touch Sart yesterday, after spending nearly a week wondering whether he was even alive.

Since her son, Theng Saroeun, was arrested along with 22 others at demonstrations last Thursday and Friday, police, court and prison officials have refused to confirm the identities or whereabouts of those detained. After six days of silence, prison officials yesterday finally allowed family members, lawyers and a doctor to visit them.

“My son is badly hurt, he was beaten seriously and could not eat,” Sart said. “He received seven stitches.”

The fact that they have spent nearly a week of detention without access to their families or lawyers – a violation of defendants’ rights in Cambodia – and held in an isolated prison far from their Phnom Penh homes indicates the government’s strong desire to keep them cut off from supporters, Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said.

The defendants – one of them a 17-year-old – were arrested on Thursday and Friday amid protests in Por Sen Chey district. Ten were arrested during a rally in front of Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc on Thursday, after, witnesses said, military officials guarding the factory initiated clashes with demonstrators.
read more.
PPP new

* Twenty-Three Arrested Protesters Held in Kompong Cham Prison:

After refusing for days to disclose the location of 23 protesters arrested last week and then charged in court, prison officials revealed Wednesday that the group is being held in a notorious jail in Kompong Cham province.

Ten people were arrested on Thursday and a further 13 were arrested on Friday during protests by striking workers that saw at least five people shot dead by military police.

Keo Sovanna, chief of Kom­pong Cham’s Correctional Center 3 (CC3), confirmed speculation earlier this week by rights groups Adhoc and Licadho that the 23 protesters—who have not yet been convicted of any crime—are being held at his maximum security jail.

“We’ve detained them in the same building [here], since we don’t have the rooms available to detain them separately,” he said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Arrested protesters in good health: Police:

General Director in charge of Prison under the Ministry of Interior said that the 23 arrested protesters, including Mr. Vorn Pov, who is a prominent human rights activist, are in good health except slight wounds caused by the clashes.

Kuy Bunsen, General Director, added nonetheless, the prison officers have been taking care of their wounds.
The above comment was made after families of the detainees had claimed that Mr. Vorn Pov and other detainees were in serious conditions.
Mr. Bunsen said that families can meet with the detainees through direct contact with the prison chief for permission and it is not necessary to contact through his office.

He also said that the 23 detainees, including Mr. Vorn Pov are being held up at resurrection center III, called M3 prison in Trapiang Tlong, Kompong Cham province.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* As Strikers Return to Work, Factories Sue Garment Unions:

As garment workers continued to return to their factories Wednesday after several days of strikes that turned deadly last week, some of their employers have wasted no time in suing the unions behind the strikes, demanding compensation.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court chief clerk Prak Savouth said five factories had already lodged complaints against the unions, but would not say which factories filed the suits or which unions had been targeted for legal action.

“We received complaints from five factories,” he said, before referring further questions to Khieu Sambo, a lawyer for the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).
Mr. Sambo confirmed that factory owners had lodged complaints, but declined to provide details.

On Tuesday, GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo said lawsuits might target all six of the nongovernment-aligned unions it has already publicly accused of inciting violence among the striking garment workers. Those protests peaked when military police shot into crowds of stone-throwing protesters outside a Phnom Penh factory on Friday, killing five and wounding more than 40. GMAC chairman Van Sou Ieng said he was not familiar with the details of the lawsuits, but estimated that 50 or more factories were availing of his association’s lawyers to sue the six unions, and that more could join the suits.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Strikers fired in Svay Rieng:

20140109 PPP Manhattan-Zone_Garment-Workers_Svay-Rieng_strike_protest
Garment workers strike in front of Kingmaker’s factory in Svay Rieng province, demanding higher minimum wages in December. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Factories in Svay Rieng province’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone have fired or suspended more than 200 workers – and are pursuing legal action against some – for participating in a strike last month that saw some 30,000 walk off the job.

An accountant at Kingmaker (Cambodia) Footwear Co, Ltd – which supplies to California-based Skechers USA Inc – confirmed they fired 200 workers on December 27, while heads of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) and Cambodian Alliance Trade Union (CATU) told the Post yesterday that 50 members of their unions were dismissed last week.

“The accusation is not right, because we did nothing wrong,” said Chorn Thieng, a factory worker in the economic zone who said he was suspended and is earning half his regular pay until a lawsuit his factory filed against him reaches court. “We just demanded [a $160 minimum monthly wage], and we still demand it.”

Workers at factories in the Manhattan and Tay Seng Special Economic Zone in Svay Rieng province started striking for a minimum wage hike – from the current government mandate of $75 plus a $5 health bonus – a week before a larger collection of unions called for an industry-wide strike on December 24.
read more.
PPP new

* For Workers, Wage Rise Is Shift From Surviving to Thriving:

Sous Sary, a 31-year-old garment worker, works two hours of overtime every day in order to earn enough to live even the most spartan of lifestyles on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

For three simple meals per day, she spends $2.50. On some days, she allows herself to indulge in a few small pieces of meat, spending $5. She pays another $20 in rent and $15 for water and electricity each month, all for a 2.5-by-2.5-meter wooden room in Pur Senchey district with no bathroom or running water. Ms. Sary and her husband, a part-time laborer, cannot afford a mattress or sheets for the wooden bed they share.

Ms. Sary, who sews trousers at the Bright Sky factory in Dangkao district, says her basic monthly expenses alone total $130, while the minimum monthly wage in the garment sector is just $80, meaning that working overtime, while technically optional, is in reality obligatory for her.

Along with hundreds of thousands of other garment workers, Ms. Saray went on strike this week seeking a raise in the minimum wage from $80 to $160 per month. Factory owners have insisted that workers’ demands cannot be met, calling the latter figure so high that it would put them out of business. The government has tried to compromise by offering $100.

But for Ms. Sary, the difference between the government’s offer and the workers’ demand is not just mathematical: It is the difference between barely surviving and being able to put some money aside to send her only child, an 8-year-old boy, to college. Her dream is for the boy to grow up and become a doctor, but she knows this goal is out of reach for the son of a garment worker, so she clings to the hope that he will one day be a nurse.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Fashion Backward: Cambodian Government Silences Garment Workers:

“Cambodian garment workers have two handcuffs and one weapon [against them]. One handcuff is a short-term contract [10 hours a day, six days a week]. Even if they get sick, if they get pregnant they feel they have to get an abortion so they don’t lose their jobs.

“The second handcuff is the low wage,” Tola Moeun, head of the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC), which advocates for workers rights, told IPS from the organisation’s headquarters on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. “The weapon used against them is violence, both mental and physical.”
About 90 percent of garment workers are young women, mostly in their teens and twenties.

His words, which came just days before mass protests broke out in the Cambodian capital, proved prophetic as garment workers took to the streets Dec. 24 until their demonstrations were brutally quashed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s private military the first weekend in January, resulting in five fatalities and over 30 serious injuries.

In the days leading up to the protest, the Labour Ministry had approved an increase in the minimum wage for garment workers, from 80 to 95 dollars a month. But trade unions and workers protested, saying it was not enough to live on, and demanded a monthly minimum wage of 160 dollars.

Chrek Sophea, interim coordinator of the Workers’ Information Centre (WIC), which helps factory workers organise, told IPS workers cannot survive on the government’s proposed wage, and that it is in violation of Cambodia’s labour laws.
read more.
IPS

* Conflicting Figures on Number of Slain at Garment Protest:

The opposition CNRP has placed the number of striking garment factory workers shot dead by military police at Friday’s protest in Phnom Penh at six, party President Sam Rainsy said Wednesday.

The number is one higher than the five deaths reported by staff at three hospitals in Phnom Penh to journalists on Tuesday and two victims more than the figure collected by local rights group Licadho.
Mr. Rainsy released a list of six names on his Facebook page Wednesday, adding Kheng Kosol, 23, to a list of those killed by military police that the CNRP had compiled by Sunday.
The names of some of the deceased or their spellings as well as their ages also differed.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Clothes Made in Cambodia Are Tainted in Blood:

By Mu Sochua

I write in response to the unethical remarks made by the leadership of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) reported in your article published on Tuesday “Garment Strike Cost Industry $200 Million, GMAC Says.”

For days, local and foreign newspapers showed video clips and images on social media of the armed military police used to crack down on the striking workers. From blood-stained clothes to injured workers begging for mercy, the obvious and undeniable fact is the way the crackdown was conducted. With AK-47 assault rifles in hands, the aim was not just to disperse a crowd but it was clearly aiming to kill.

Five workers were killed and close to 30 others were wounded on January 3 during the heavy confrontation at the Canadia Industrial Zone. The leadership of GMAC called it “collateral damage” and described the use of lethal weapons by the military police as “absolutely” appropriate.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* GMAC Doesn’t Support Violence to End Industrial Disputes:

By Ken Loo

I refer to the article “GMAC Defends Use of Force Against Striking Workers” published on Monday, which did not fairly reflect the views and position of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC).

It starts out by claiming that GMAC “endorsed the use of deadly force by military police against striking workers.” This contradicts a later paragraph in which I was quoted as saying “GMAC condemns the use of violence, period. However, I think that the police had to respond to break up the rioters, and the rioters were not responding to verbal warnings.”

I feel that the quote was taken out of context and that it has misrepresented our position. When asked if I thought that the military police had responded appropriately by firing live rounds, I had replied that firstly, we should be clear to distinguish striking workers and this group of rioters. In this case, the rioters had engaged in violent activities including breaking down of factory gates and doors, intimidating and forcing workers who were working to leave work. They had also destroyed a clinic and were burning up roadside stalls. We also witnessed numerous attempts to try and break into garment factories.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia’s Garment Industry Dilemma:

Cambodia is in the very early days of industrialisation. Assembly work, such as stitching garments together are typical examples of the type of work at this stage, as surplus labour moves out of the countryside and into towns and cities looking for cash-based incomes.

The work is comparatively uncomplicated, appropriate to the skill levels of these new industrial workers but also involves long hours on low wages.

This is because wages are generally set internationally rather than locally, and from an international perspective, wages in Cambodia are comparatively high for this industry. In Bangladesh, the minimum wage has just been raised to $US68 a month from $38 a month, whereas it was already $US80 here in Cambodia, and is about to rise to $US100 – effectively putting contract garment manufacturers here who largely compete on price at a disadvantage.

The cynical ploy by the opposition NRP therefore, to encourage these workers to risk it all just so these politician’s can get their hands on the levers of power, is especially lamentable under circumstances where itinerant garment manufacturers could easily decide that Cambodia was becoming too difficult and relocate elsewhere.
read more.
PENHPAL

* UN rights body seeks probe into shootings:

The United Nations yesterday urged the government to launch an investigation into the recent deadly violence by security forces against striking garment workers, ahead of next week’s visit by the special rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia, Surya Subedi.

“We are following the situation in Cambodia with serious concern and are deeply alarmed by the disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials in responding to demonstrations,” Robert Colville of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement.

“We urge the Cambodian authorities to launch a prompt and thorough investigation and to ensure full accountability of members of security forces found to have used disproportionate and excessive force,” he added.
read more. & read more.
PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

* SL protester, 15, released after months:

A juvenile suspect held on charges of violence and criminal damage for his part in the SL Garment workers strike last November has been released on bail.

The 15-year-old suspect was released under court supervision yesterday, after an appeal was launched against his pre-trial detention.
A lawyer for the prosecution, who wished to remain anonymous, said the youth suffered from mental illness.
“He has a mental problem, and he is a juvenile,” she said. “We wait to discuss with the attorney whether we should keep filing against him or not.”
read more.
PPP new

* Workers in Russey Keo return to work after weeks of strike:

Thousands of workers from 58 factories in Russey Keo district returned to work as usual today after recent weeks of strike to demand wage increase.

Almost 100 percent of the workers in the area go to work and the situation returned to normalcy.
Last month, workers started the strikes throughout the country to demand that wage be raised to USD160 per month, up from USD 80 per month.
The government then increased to USD 100 per month starting from February 2014. Six labor union leaders are still not satisfied with the increase.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Gap to H&M Urge Talks to End Cambodian Workers’ Pay Clash:

Apparel makers including Gap Inc. (GPS), Hennes & Mauritz AB (HMB) and Inditex SA (ITX) called on Cambodia’s government, its garment industry and unions to hold talks after a strike over workers’ pay led to deadly clashes.

The government, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia and labor unions should engage in negotiations and support a new wage-review mechanism to avoid future violence, the retailers said in an open letter yesterday. Adidas AG (ADS), Puma SE (PUM), Levi Strauss & Co. and Columbia Sportswear Co. (COLM) also signed the letter.

At least three people were killed when police used live ammunition to crush a protest by striking garment workers in Phnom Penh, the Cambodia Daily reported Jan. 3, citing the police. The protesters were part of a nationwide strike by garment workers demanding a doubling of the minimum wage to $160 a month, while the government offered $100.

“Our primary concerns are for the security and safety of the workers employed by our suppliers and the long-term stability of the Cambodian garment industry,” the companies said in the letter. “The only way to resolve this dispute is to cease all forms of violence, and for stakeholders to enter into good-faith negotiations.”
read more.
BLOOMBERG

* Rare gov’t insight in Korea docs:

Documents removed from the South Korean embassy’s Facebook page following a media firestorm over that nation’s alleged role in last week’s violence provide unprecedented insight into the Cambodian government’s thinking prior to the crackdown and suggest officials initially aimed to take a “cautious” approach.

Accused in recent days of leaning on the government to forcefully crack down on striking garment workers to protect South Korean-owned factories, the South Korean embassy yesterday vehemently denied the allegations, saying such claims were “ill-intentioned” and based on false information.

In several international media reports published this week, South Korea stood accused of urging the Cambodian government to send soldiers and police to protect business interests. But an embassy representative said yesterday that South Korean officials met with army and police representatives on Saturday – after the brutal crackdown on demonstrators on Thursday and Friday by authorities that left at least four dead and scores injured.
read more.
PPP new

* South Korean Embassy Denies Role in Strike Suppression:

The South Korean Embassy on Wednesday denied a news report that it had lobbied Cambodian military authorities to “crack down on protesters” in a bid to shield Korean investments in the garment industry, prior to Friday’s killing of five protesters and the wounding of more than 40 others by military police officers.

A story published late Tuesday by the U.S.-based GlobalPost news service cited a statement by the South Korean Embassy—posted online in Korean—in which embassy staff allegedly said that they had asked the Cambodian military to “act swiftly” in protecting factories owned by their citizens.

According to GlobalPost, in the statement on Monday, “the South Korean Embassy took credit for convincing the Cambodian government to ‘understand the seriousness of this situation and act swiftly.’ It cited high-level lobbying over the past two weeks as contribution to the ‘success’ of protecting business interests.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Labour Rights Groups Condemn Violence Against Garment Workers in Cambodia :

Groups call on global clothing brands to use their influence to achieve an
end to repression against workers involved in wage protests and the
resumption of good-faith wage negotiations.

Labour rights groups and trade unions across the world are expressing
outrage at the brutal violence and repression in Cambodia following
demonstrations by garment and footwear workers calling for a raise in the
minimum wage.

The groups, including Clean Clothes Campaign, International Labor Rights
Forum, Worker Rights Consortium, Maquila Solidarity Network, United
Students Against Sweatshops, International Union League for Brand
Responsibility, Workers United, SEIU, Framtiden i våre hender, and CNV
Internationaal, The Netherlands, are calling on GLOBAL CLOTHING BRANDS to
take immediate action and contact the CAMBODIAN GOVERNMENT demanding:

* Immediate end to all violence and intimidation against workers and their
representatives;
* Release of all those who have been detained for participation in the
struggles;
* Respect for freedom of association and the workers’ right to strike;
* Refraining from charging the workers and trade union leaders who have
participated in the strike;
* Resumption of good-faith minimum wage negotiations; and
* Ensuring all those responsible for the violence against the strikers are
held to account.

Violence against garment workers began after Cambodian unions called a
national strike on December 24, 2013. Workers were demanding an increase in
the minimum wage to USD 160 per month. As protests continued, the police
and military responded with violence on January 2 and 3, killing at least 4
people and injuring almost 40.
read more.
Site

* Global Week of Action against Gov’t Crackdown on Cambodian Protesters:

While the New Year’s firecrackers signaled hope for people around the world, Cambodian garment workers protesting for a rise in wages faced a violent police crackdown on January 2, 2014.

Two days later, Freedom Park in Phnom Penh, where civil society have traditionally gathered, was forcibly cleared by police and mass actions are now banned from the site. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development joins organisations from the region calling on international civil society to hold a Global Week of Action starting Friday, 10 January 2014. It will be a week of protest against state repression of workers and civil society, protection for workers’ right to freedom of assembly, and right to a living wage.

Violent crackdowns were instigated by Cambodian military on 2 January when workers of the Yak Jin factory held a protest asking for a salary increase from the current starvation wage of 80 USD to 160 USD. Soldiers threatened protesters with “metal pipes, knives, AK47 rifles, slingshots and batons” and arrested 10 people including monks and members of civil society organizations.
read more.
20140109 STOP ATTACK

* BetterFactories Media Updates 28 December 2013- 9 January 2014, Wages and widespread strike in Cambodian garment industry:

 * To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2013-12-30 CNRP calls a timeout
2013-12-30 CNRP timeout on marches
2013-12-31 Take it or leave it offer
2014-01-01 Extra 5 dollars won’t woo workers
2014-01-01 Workers out, deadlines loom
2014-01-02 Teachers union targeted
2014-01-03 CNRP cites assaults in nixing talks
2014-01-03 Strike violence erupts
2014-01-06 Cambodia’s garment to ship piece to piece
2014-01-06 Canadia park, a ghost town
2014-01-06 Exodus follows violent clash
2014-01-06 Leadership of CNRP digging in
2014-01-06 Picking up the pieces
2014-01-06 Veng Sreng’s voices
2014-01-07 For families of 23 arrested silence
2014-01-07 ICC complaint to lay shootings at PM’s feet
2014-01-07 Ministry too busy to sit down with unions
2014-01-07 Wage fight to wound key sector
2014-01-08 Garment manufacturers planning to sue unions
2014-01-08 ILO doubts bleak garment outlook
2014-01-08 Millions in damages sought
2014-01-08 Opposition preps plans for demos
2014-01-09 Rare gov’t insight in Korea docs
2014-01-09 Silence broken at last
2014-01-09 SL protester 15, released after months
2014-01-09 Strikers fired over Svay Rieng
2014-01-09 UN rigths body seeks probe into shootings

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-12-28-29 Defense minister warns protesters against blocking streets
2013-12-28-29 Workers block roads, vow further strikes
2013-12-30 Factories closed until safety guaranteed
2013-12-30 Protesters unite around demand for Hun Sen’s resignation
2013-12-30 Reasons why Cambodian protesters must remain nonviolent
2013-12-30 UN Rights Envoy urges calm amid protests
2013-12-30 Workers’ 160 dollars demand not excessive, simply necessary
2013-12-31 Gov’t unveils legal plan to break garment industry strike
2013-12-31 Italy’s garment shops boom as Chinese staff suffer
2013-12-31 Some factories stay open despite GMAC’s call for shutdown
2014-01-01 Amid strikes, minister raises minimum wage to $100
2014-01-02 Bangladesh issues warrant for fugitive factory owner
2014-01-02 CPP, CNRP to meet Friday to discuss negotiation
2014-01-02 Unions to bring demonstrations to factory gates
2014-01-03 Paratroopers deployed at Garment protest 15 detained, injured
2014-01-03 Wal-Mart recalls donkey meat across China
2014-01-04-05 Court charges protesters as supporters, police scuffle
2014-01-04-05 Military police kill 5 during clash with demonstrators
2014-01-04-05 Police free detained monks, rights workers
2014-01-04-05 UN, Union and City Hall meet to discuss how to resolve protest violence
2014-01-06 After deadly clashes, garment workers flee Veng Sreng street
2014-01-06 Five killed during protest confirmed as garment workers
2014-01-06 GMAC defends use of force against striking workers
2014-01-06 Government blasted for eviction of freedom park
2014-01-06 Vietnamese shop near protest site looted by demonstrators
2014-01-07 Anti-eviction acitivists grabbed off street, detained
2014-01-07 Flouting law, government holds protest prisioners incognito
2014-01-07 Garment strike cost industry $200 millions, GMAC says
2014-01-07 Government finds denialability in district security force
2014-01-07 Military police deny their bullets killed five protesters
2014-01-07 Police block, search garment worker’s vans in Svay Rieng
2014-01-08 Arrested protesters’ whereabouts still unknown
2014-01-08 Rights groups condemn killing of protesters
2014-01-08 Teachers to recommence strike for higher wage
2014-01-08 Unions tell garment workers to suspend strike
2014-01-08 Vietnamese shops worry over possible violence
2014-01-08 Wounded recount rampage by military police
2014-01-09 As strikers return work, factories sue garment unions factories
2014-01-09 Authorities begin to clamp down on striking teachers
2014-01-09 Bangladesh vote unrest squeeze textiles sector
2014-01-09 Businesses assess damage from clashes along Veng Sreng street
2014-01-09 Clothes made in Cambodia are tainted in blood
2014-01-09 Conflicting figures on number of slain at garment protest
2014-01-09 Crushing protests, CPP has abandoned constitution
2014-01-09 For nonviolence to prevail over brutality, discipline is needed
2014-01-09 For workers, wage rise is shift from surviving to thriving
2014-01-09 GMAC doesn’t support violence to end industrial disputes
2014-01-09 International condemnation grows in wake of deadly clash
2014-01-09 South Korean embassy denies role in strike suppression
2014-01-09 Twenty-three arrested protesters held in Kampong Cham prison

* To read in the printed edition of the Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2014-01-06 Cambodian National Union Council calls for legal right protection for workers not participating in strikes
2014-01-06 Clashes on Veng Srey immensely damage
2014-01-06 Open letter from workers calling for workers to go back to work and stop following incitement

* To read in the printed edition of the Rasmei Kampuchea Daily (Khmer):
2014-01-04 About 80 percent of factories starts operating
2014-01-04 Clashes along Veng Sreng 4 killed at least 30 injured 11 arrested
2014-01-04 CNRP’s mass demonstration is waiting for the decision from Ministry of Interior
2014-01-04 Ministry to discuss with 5 unions presidents on 8 January
2014-01-04 Workers destroyed Independent Clinic along Veng Srey road
2014-01-04 Workers go back to their homeland after unrest

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

$160

20140110

* Families of Killed and Missing Protesters Compile Complaint:

Family members of striking garment factory workers killed, wounded and missing after military police violently suppressed last Friday’s Veng Sreng Street protests have begun preparing complaints to file with authorities and rights NGOs.

At least five people were shot dead, and more than 40 were in­jured, after military police armed with AK-47 assault rifles put down a protest of stone-throwing striking workers.

Chiev Panith, 20, the wife of Sam Ravy, who was shot dead by military police, said that she would file a complaint to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court seeking an investigation into her husband’s death, and to identify the killer.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Lawyers Prevented From Seeing Protest Detainees at CC3:

Lawyers and human rights workers were prevented from entering Kompong Cham province’s Correctional Center 3 (CC3) prison on Thursday when they attempted to meet with some of the 23 protesters, union leaders and garment workers detained last week after protests were lethally suppressed by government forces.

Security at the notorious and remote CC3 prison, which is located near the Vietnamese border, has also been ramped up in recent days, bolstered by the deployment of about 50 soldiers to the facility, lawyers and staff from rights group Adhoc said.

“We are not permitted to meet our clients,” said Muth Piseth, a lawyer hired to defend 10 of the detained strikers who were rounded up by military police at the Canadia Industrial Park in Pur Senchey district’s Veng Sreng Street.
The 10 have been charged with perpetrating intentional violence and causing damage.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* 100 Factories Suing Unions Behind Strike:

More than 100 factories have now filed lawsuits against the six trade unions behind recent strikes for higher garment worker wages, and a lawyer representing garment manufacturers said Thursday that more suits are likely to come.

The factories accuse the six non-government aligned unions of inciting the protests, which occasionally turned violent and inflicted some damage on their properties. The unions have all denied the accusation and in turn accuse security forces of using excessive force against protesters, killing at least five and injuring 42 demonstrators last week.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court chief clerk Prak Savouth said he has received a slew of complaints since Monday from Khieu Sambo, a lawyer for the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), which represents most of the 500-plus shoe and garment factories in the country.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia unions face court action over strike:

Union leader says judiciary politicised but pledges to fight charges filed by garment-factory owners after two-week row.

Thousands of garment workers have returned to work in Cambodia since a strike for higher pay was put down with deadly force by the authorities last week.

However, employers are now filing cases in courts against trade unions over the two-week dispute.
Khieu Sambo, an attorney representing the firms against the six unions involved in the strike, told Reuters news agency that more than 150 factories had filed cases and more were being prepared.
“The lawsuits will focus on incitement to strike, damage to property and assets, coercion and threatening workers who want to work,” Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said on Friday.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, one of those targeted, said the judiciary was politicised but he would still fight the charges in court.
“They sued us because they want to intimidate us so we won’t strike any more and we won’t help the workers. We are not afraid.”
read more.
aljazeera

* One week later: Coming to terms with Cambodia’s brutal protest crackdown:

A week ago today Cambodian police shot and killed five protesting garment factory employees. In Phnom Penh, workers, activists and labor groups are still struggling to make sense of the violence

Grassroots protestors, folk songs and labor rights activists converged at Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh last week as garment workers campaigned to raise their minimum wage from $80 a month to $160.

After the Ministry of Labor approved a wage increase to $95 a month, trade unions and workers took to the streets, demanding $160. According to rights activists, the approved $95 wage is simply not enough to live on. So the campaign continued, galvanized by the support of Cambodia’s opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), which had joined the protest in support.

Yet the peaceful protest ended in riots as the military closed in, shot and killed five garment factory workers and injured over 30 others on January 3. A ban on gatherings of groups larger than 10 has been put in place. Twenty-three protesters and labor leaders were missing for a week after their arrest.
read more.
asiancorres

* Despite bail, 15-year-old still in jail:

A juvenile accused of destroying a police car during a violent strike by SL Garment factory workers in November remained in Prey Sar prison yesterday, despite the Court of Appeal having granted him bail.

Sary Bothchakrya, a lawyer from the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) representing the suspect, said the 15-year-old had been granted bail because he has a history of mental illness, but that he would probably not be released until next week.

“Now he is in the jail while we are completing the bail documents for the court to process,” she said. “He will be released from the jail next week, I think.”

Chim Sambo, 27, a relative of the detained youth, told the Post yesterday that the suspect was not involved in violence between police and factory workers. Police arrested the boy, he continued, while he was collecting scrap metal to sell after the men who burned the police car had already left the scene.
read more.
PPP new

* Svay Rieng garment workers fired, suspended:

Due to incorrect information provided to the Post, a previous version of this story reported that Kingmaker (Cambodia) Footwear Co Ltd. fired 200 workers on December 27 for striking. A factory representative said 200 people participated in demonstrations, but were not fired.

Factories in Svay Rieng province’s Manhattan Special Economic Zone have fired or suspended at least 50 workers – and are pursuing legal action against some – for participating in a strike last month that saw some 30,000 walk off the job.

Heads of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers (CUMW) and Cambodian Alliance Trade Union (CATU) told the Post yesterday that 50 members of their unions were dismissed last week.
read more.
PPP new

* To understand Cambodia’s labor crackdown, open your closet:

A police crackdown on striking garment workers in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, last week left at least four people dead and several others wounded. But they are not the first casualties in the Southeast Asian country’s race to the bottom to prop up the garment industry. Unless things change for the better, they won’t be the last.

Worker unrest has been evident in Cambodia for several years. However, the latest flare-up of violence is not simply a tale about a faraway place where garments make up 80 percent of exports. It is deeply connected to the West. In choosing not to intervene, American and European multinational companies — particularly the top global apparel brands that source their clothes from the country — are enabling both the repression and the mistreatment of garment workers in Cambodia. In fact, these companies are also directly responsible and are well positioned to stop the violence and improve labor conditions.

But they have done very little so far. Seven global clothing companies, including the Swedish retail-clothing company H&M and the San Francisco-based clothier Gap, have publicly condemned the violence and called for a negotiated settlement to the crisis. But they should use their clout with Cambodian authorities to push for higher labor standards and demand an immediate end to the repression.
read more.
ALJAZEERA US

* Garment sector economics:

In this week’s interview, the Post’s Hor Kimsay sits down with Hiroshi Suzuki, chief economist at the Business Research Institute for Cambodia (BRIC). Suzuki discusses the debate about minimum wages in the garment sector, strikes and whether increases will hurt Cambodia’s competitiveness.

How much of an effect will the combination of garment strikes, violence and political tensions have on economic growth?
From my point of view regarding macroeconomic growth, the effect is not so big. The economy is driven forward by several kinds of engines, including the garment sector, tourism, agriculture, construction and real estate. The tourism industry is enjoying an increase in visitors. The agriculture and construction sectors are also performance well. Having a look at all these things, we can see that growth in these sectors will support the fundamentals of Cambodia’s economy.

What about the garment sector?
Of course, some of it is affected, because many factories were closed and they could not produce to meet deadlines. Some were damaged. It also could affect the volume of orders from the buyers. But, Cambodia is not alone. Bangladesh, a garment industry country, is facing a big fight because of its recent election. It is fortunate that the economy of the US and EU are recovering.
read more.
PPP new

* Japan Asked Government to Protect Its Interests During Strike:

Japan has expressed its deep concern about the situation in Cambodia following the deadly crackdown on striking garment workers last Friday, and admitted Thursday that it had contacted the government during the protests to ask for protection of Japanese citizens and companies.

Military police armed with AK-47 assault rifles shot five people dead and wounded 42 more after opening fire on protesters outside the Canadia Industrial Park in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district, bringing to a bloody conclusion a week of mostly peaceful demonstrations by garment factory workers calling for an increase to their minimum wage.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* As a community reels in the wake of violence, different voices reflect:

Veng Sreng Boulevard, in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district, is home to garment workers who sew for brands like Gap and H&M in the 61 factories within the Canadia Industrial Park complex.

Late last week, strikes by employees asking for a minimum wage of $160 per month erupted in violence. At least four protesters were killed and many more injured as security forces fired live rounds into the crowd. Others were arrested – 23 remain in prison but have not been charged. Dozens of businesses were damaged in the chaotic aftermath.
Nearby, hospitals were crowded with the injured and their families. Here, seven individuals caught up in the events tell their stories of the violence, the repercussions and the fear-filled days that followed. Poppy McPherson and Will Jackson report.
read more.
PPP new

* Volunteer medic team swallows fear to help save lives at clashes:

As heavily armed military police advanced down Veng Sreng Boulevard at the Canadia Industrial Park early in the afternoon on Friday, January 3, Norm Sinath cautiously raised his hands.

Although the green cross on his vest clearly indicated that he was a medic, Sinath was taking no chances. Moments before, the same policemen had fired a volley of automatic rifle shots above the heads of demonstrators who had failed to clear the site.

“Don’t run away,” Sinath advised those around him as the police marched forward about 10 metres away. “If we run, they’ll think we’re protesters.”
Around four hours earlier, at least four demonstrators had been killed and dozens injured when supporters of the garment strike clashed with authorities in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district.
read more.
PPP new

* Groups condemn Cambodia worker crackdown:

Several civil society groups handed over a memorandum to the Cambodian embassy today, protesting the neighbouring country’s recent violent crackdown on workers striking for higher wages.

Representatives from Dignity International, Asia Floor Wage Alliance, Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor, Committee for Asian Women, Jerit, MTUC, Suaram and Junior Officers Union Tenaga Nasional Berhad submitted the letter to Chhay Kosal, third secretary (Consular and Administration) at the embassy.

“We the undersigned strongly condemn the use of extreme force, violence and arrest to quell garment workers’ strike in Cambodia on Jan 2 and 3, 2014.

“The garment workers’ strike is a legitimate expression of the desperation of garment workers who are crushed under poverty level wages,” the memorandum, endorsed by 17 local and international NGOs as well as Klang MP Charles Santiago and Senator Syed Shahir Syed Mohamud, reads.
read more.
FREEMALAYSIATODAY

* Cambodia: Stop government violence against workers:

This campaign is in solidarity with Cambodian garment workers and unions, who initiated a general strike seeking an increase in minimum wage from US$80 per month to US$160.

The strike was very effective, with many thousands of workers participating, and the employers association (GMAC) called a lockout and urged the government to crack down on the workers.
On January 3, 2014, the government sent military police to attack a demonstration at one of the struck factories, and they opened fire on the demonstration with AK-47 rifles and killed five workers and seriously injured dozens more.
The government has since banned all demonstrations and used military force to clear the streets. At least 39 workers have been detained and are held in unknown locations.
Faced with this brutal repression, the unions have called off the strike and workers are returning to work, although they are continuing to press their demands.
read more and please sign here.
     

20140109 STOP ATTACK

$160

20140111

* Stop the violence against Cambodian garment workers:

Cambodian garment workers make around $80 a month, taking on long hours of overtime in harsh conditions.

Now workers across the country are standing up for themselves to demand more – but the fight for a better wage in Cambodia is a dangerous one. This video is to show the workers who are standing up – and the violence that’s consistently employed to keep them quiet.
Photos and video by Heather Stilwell. @HeatherStilwell
see Video.
HEATHER

* Groups Demand Mandatory Minimum Wage, Threaten Protest:

About 100 people, including 20 monks, held a ceremony in Phnom Penh on Friday in memory of the five people killed a week beforehand when military police opened fire on protesting garment workers, and demanded that the government introduce a mandatory, sector-wide standard minimum wage.

In Sen Sok district’s Toek Thla commune, representatives from seven advocacy groups and unions said they stood in solidarity with the garment workers, who are calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $160 per month, but said such a sum should be introduced in other sectors too.

The groups, which included the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community and the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, also called for the release of 23 strikers, activists and union representatives are detained in Kompong Cham province’s maximum security Correctional Center 3 (CC3) after their arrest last week.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Committees to ‘Research’ Minimum Wages, ‘Study’ Killings:

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday assigned former Finance Minister Keat Chhon as the head of a newly formed committee tasked with researching the government’s capacity to introduce wage increases for civil servants and factory workers.

In a statement released by the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, Mr. Hun Sen said that he wants Mr. Chhon to “discuss with related institutions and parties over the possibility for raising salaries and reforming the salary system for civil servants.”

On January 3, military police shot dead five and wounded more than 40 protesting garment factory workers during clashes on Veng Sreng Street after a week of mass demonstrations to demand a monthly minimum wage of $160.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodian garment workers return to work; firms sue unions:

Tens of thousands of garment workers have returned to work in Cambodia since a strike for higher pay was put down with deadly force by the authorities last week but employers are now piling up lawsuits against trade unions over the two-week dispute.

The garment makers’ association said most workers had returned to work around the country by Friday although only about 60 percent had shown up at the Canadia Industrial Park in the capital, Phnom Penh, where military police opened fire on January 3, killing three strikers according to the government.

The park is home to factories that make clothes for Western brands such as Adidas AG, H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB and Puma SE.
“The lawsuits will focus on incitement to strike, damage to property and assets, coercion and threatening workers who want to work,” Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), told Reuters.

Khieu Sambo, an attorney representing firms against the six unions involved in the strike, told Reuters that more than 150 factories had filed lawsuits and more were being prepared.
Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, one of those targeted, said the judiciary was politicised but he would still fight the charges in court.
“They sued us because they want to intimidate us so we won’t strike any more and we won’t help the workers,” he said. “We are not afraid.”
read more.
reuters

* World Retailers Want Negotiations in Cambodia Labor Dispute:

Major international clothing companies say they are concerned for the safety of Cambodia’s garment workers and want to see peaceful negotiations between unions, factories and the government.

The workers have been on strike for weeks, calling for the monthly minimum wage to be doubled to $160. The industry employs up to 400,000 people.
Five people were killed, 40 injured and 23 arrested in crackdowns on striking workers and other demonstrators last week. Many laborers have since returned to work but unions are still calling for a raise.

In an unusual move, major international clothing retailers, including H&M, Adidas, Gap, Columbia, Puma and Levi Strauss, this week signed a joint letter decrying violence against workers.
“We strongly oppose any form of violence, and urge the Royal Government of Cambodia to drive negotiations among stakeholders to peacefully resolve this dispute,” Laura Wilkinson, a spokeswoman for Gap, told VOA Khmer in an e-mail.
read more.
voa

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20140112

* Big brands must act on Cambodia’s pay crisis:

The protests of Cambodian garment workers which ended in a fatal clash with police early this month highlight the plight of workers who make a significant contribution to the country’s economic success.

The protesters, whose demonstrations bolstered efforts by the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party to challenge prime minister Hun Sen, were demanding an increase in the minimum wage _ which is now US$95 per month (about 3,100 baht) _ to $160.

The demand of another $65 per month to the wage has been turned down by the Hun Sen government and the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC). In 2010, the minimum wage was $50 per month.

Needless to say, the Cambodian government wants to maintain the low wage _ the significant factor that makes Cambodia attractive to investors who supply to leading global fashion brands such as Gap and H&M. Over the past decade, many of the world’s fashion labels have shifted their production base for this labour-intensive industry to developing countries. The garment industry is a huge sector that provides jobs to some 30,000 Cambodian workers.
read more.
bangkokpost

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20140113

* Cambodian government must investigate killings and increase minimum wage:

IndustriALL Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) calls for the Cambodian government to act immediately to investigate the killing of four garment workers during strikes on 3 January, release all 23 detained unionists, and set a minimum wage on which workers and their families can at least meet their basic needs.

On 10-13 January, IndustriALL and the IUC joined forces for an international trade union mission to Cambodia. Demanding the release of jailed unionists, an investigation into the killings, and an increased minimum wage, the mission expresses particular concern over the fate of union president Vorn Pao. He was severely beaten and remains in jail despite his poor physical condition.

The mission demands the establishment of a credible, independent inquiry to investigate the killings and for those responsible to be held accountable. This demand was put to Cambodia’s Labour Minister today.

The delegation also informed him that the plan announced to set up a government-controlled inquiry is seen as insufficient, given that government such committees have produced few results in the past.

Calls for urgent action to raise the minimum wage and a government pledge to fully respect ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, which Cambodia has ratified, were also put to the Minister. A government proposal to set up a new Commission on wages, headed by the Finance Minister, was described as inadequate. No meeting of that Commission has been scheduled yet, and further delay in establishing a decent minimum wage is likely to lead to further industrial action as workers seek justice.
read more.
Home

* Cambodia: Statement from International Trade Union Mission:

An international trade union mission to Cambodia has today called for the government to act immediately to investigate the killing of four garment workers during strikes on 3 January, release all 23 detained unionists, and set a minimum wage on which workers and their families can at least meet their basic needs.

The mission has expressed particular concern over the fate of union president Vorn Pao, who was severely beaten and remains in jail despite his poor physical condition.
In a statement issued by the ITUC, its regional body ITUC-AP and the regional office of Global Union Federation IndustriALL, the mission demanded the establishment of a credible, independent inquiry to investigate the killings and for those responsible to be held accountable. This demand was put to Cambodia’s Labour Minister today.
read more.
ITUC CSI IGB

* Unions Want Government, Factories to Resume Wage Talks:

The unions behind several days of strikes that turned deadly this month said they will officially ask the Labor Ministry today to resume negotiations on a new minimum wage for the country’s critical garment sector, and said they would hold more street protests if their request is rebuffed.

The six unions led strikes for a doubling of the sector’s monthly minimum wage to $160 that peaked when military police shot into crowds of protesters outside a Phnom Penh factory on January 3, killing five people and wounding dozens more.

Though most workers have since returned to their factories and the Labor Ministry has offered to boost the minimum wage from $80 to $100 per month, the unions said Sunday that they were sticking to their demand for $160.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Relatives Call On Government to Release 23 Detainees:

Relatives and human rights activists on Sunday called on the government to release 23 men beaten and arrested during clashes between police and garment workers just more than a week ago, and said they would defy a ban on public gatherings if they were not.

The 23 protesters, union leaders and garment workers were apprehended during two days of violent demonstrations—for a doubling of the monthly minimum wage for garment workers to $160—that turned deadly on January 3 when military police shot and killed five people and wounded dozens more. The 23 have since been charged with intentionally causing violence and damage to property.

At a press conference at the Phnom Penh home of one of the detainees, anti-eviction activist Chan Puthisak, about 40 relatives and activists condemned the men’s arrest and demanded their immediate release.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Labour rallies move overseas:

20140113 PPP Protesters-Seoul
Protesters outside the Cambodian embassy in Seoul yesterday demand the resignation of Prime Minister Hun Sen. PHOTO SUPPLIED

As protests in Cambodia become scarce in the wake of authorities opening fire on demonstrators near Canadia Industrial Park, killing at least four people, labour and human rights advocates across the globe are showing solidarity with demonstrations of their own.

Since the deadly incident on January 3, protesters have gathered at Cambodian embassies in more than a dozen countries to publicly condemn the shooting of unarmed demonstrators.

“The shooting against the protesters cannot be justified at all,” said Mikyung Ryu, international director of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, which has organised three demonstrations in South Korea.
“On no grounds should the military fire on protesters.”

About 2,000 demonstrators attended the protest at the Cambodian embassy in Seoul yesterday, Ryu said. Their first demonstration was held at the embassy a few days after the shooting, and they held a second rally outside South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where they decried the country’s alleged complicity in the shooting.
read more. & read more.
PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Rights groups critical of gov’t investigations:

The government announced on Friday it would set up two commissions headed by Interior Minister Sar Kheng to investigate clashes between police and protesters early this month that left at least four dead, more than 20 injured and 23 arrested, a move criticised by rights groups, which said the government was incapable of carrying out an independent investigation.

One will focus on investigating the damage caused by “anarchic demonstrators”, while the other will investigate how the incident occurred. A third commission will study the minimum wages of garment workers and be headed by Minister of Finance Keat Chhon, according to a statement from the Council of Ministers.

Pointing to the creation of similar fact-finding commissions formed after violent police incidences in the past, senior Licadho monitor Am Sam Ath said there was virtually no chance these groups would uncover the truth.
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodian garment workers: The skin of their teeth, the shirt on your back:

Her quick hands and sharp eyes have, for a year, inspected the stitching in a stream of clothes before they left a factory by a dusty potholed street in Phnom Penh to head to stores in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Berlin, London and New York.

Today Ms Heit Ladi, 20, who eked out a living by the proverbial skin of her teeth on a monthly salary of US$80 (S$102) and just wanted more, lies staring at the ceiling in Phnom Penh’s Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, her upper left arm shattered by two bullets. She wonders if it will heal well enough for her to resume work.
She is among over 30 left wounded when troops opened fire on striking workers on Jan 3. Five were killed.

The local rights organisation, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights, called it “the worst state violence to hit civilians in 15 years”.
Seven global apparel brand names which buy from Cambodian factories, in an open letter to Cambodia’s strongman Premier Hun Sen last Tuesday, expressed deep concern over “the widespread civil unrest and the government’s use of deadly force”.
read more.
ASIAREPORT

* Blood on our backs:

Global garment workers deserve more than intermittent concern

20140111 ALJAZEERAUSAA garment worker on strike holds a banner demanding a minimum salary of $160 a month on December 27, 2013 in Phnom Penh, CambodiaOmar Havana/Getty Images

Early one morning about a week ago, I awoke in a shiver, grabbed a purple cotton shirt from my closet and pulled it over my head. I didn’t notice the label. I made my coffee and checked the news.

On the other side of the globe, five Cambodians had been shot and killed and more than 20 wounded as military police cracked down on a swelling demonstration of garment workers protesting for higher pay. I clicked on the wrenching photo of a body bathed in blood, his shirt and pants painted the same startling red as the dirt beneath him. As rocks, bricks and Molotov cocktails flew, armed forces responded with batons and bullets. The human-rights group Licadho called it the worst violence against Cambodian civilians in 15 years.

It’s a remarkably risky job, making clothes for Westerners. When the Rana Plaza factory collapsed in Bangladesh in April, killing more than 1,100 people, we Westerners responded with a collective pause: How, exactly, should we think about the workers who make our clothes? But we didn’t think long or hard enough. In October fire killed seven workers in a Bangladesh fabric mill that supplied cloth for Western companies. Human Rights Watch has said the tragedy could have been prevented. And now blood spatters the streets of Phnom Penh amid massive political protests, as opposition leaders demand long-standing Prime Minister Hun Sen step down after decades in charge.

I looked at the shirt on my back: a Tresics tag, “made in Cambodia.” I flipped through hangers and dresser drawers to find more made-in-Cambodia labels from Mossimo, Old Navy, Faded Glory, Gap and Sonoma, purchased long ago from Target, Walmart and Kohl’s.
read more.
ALJAZEERA US

* Another dark day in our history:

On December 29, more than 100,000 Cambodians – garment workers, teachers, farmers and students from all over the country – marched through the streets of the capital calling for Hun Sen, our long-serving prime minister-dictator, to step down or allow an independent investigation into the flawed national elections that took place in July.

The massive demonstration was the culmination of months of non-violent rallies and marches led by the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). It was also the most significant challenge to Hun Sen’s 28-year reign of exploitation and corruption.

And he could not tolerate it. He would sooner draw blood than enact real reform.

For almost three decades, Hun Sen – a Khmer Rouge defector who was put in power after Vietnam toppled Pol Pot’s regime in 1979 – has convinced foreign governments to pour aid into the country, even while the ruling Cambodian People’s Party has rigged elections, sold off our natural resources, imprisoned journalists, union leaders, opposition politicians and human rights activists.
read more.
PPP new

* A family’s anguish:

It’s been a week since Khim Saphath’s family held a funeral for their missing son, last seen with blood pouring from his chest during clashes between striking garment workers and authorities on January 3.

Without a body to place in a casket, framed photos had to suffice as a physical reminder of a baby-faced 16-year-old who lied about his age to work at a Chinese-owned garment factory for $8 a day.

But although they say they have accepted the worst, Saphath’s doting parents haven’t stopped looking for him.

“I look for my son at pagodas, hospitals and clinics. Wherever we go, we ask people about him, but we have found nothing,” Saphath’s father, Khim Souern, 41, said yesterday outside the sparse rental room that the youngster shared with his older sister, a few hundred metres away from the factory where he worked. “We just want to know what happened to him, if he survived or died. If he is dead, we need to see his corpse.”
read more.
PPP new

$160

20140114

* Hun Sen: Minimum wage of workers cannot be increased to USD160:

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday said it would be impossible to double the garment workers from USD 80 to USD 160 even though he wish to see them to have better life.

“Which leaders and Prime Ministers don’t want to see their peoples have good and high standard of living,”,
Hun Sen said at the ground-breaking ceremony of Chrey Thom-Long Binh Bridge in Kandal province.

Hun Sen, who attended the ceremony with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, said the salaries of Cambodian workers are higher than those of workers in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Laos, and as high as the minimum wage in Vietnam.
He also appealed to opposition leaders to stop inciting protest to demand wage be raised to $160 per month for workers as “it is impossible”.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Huge spike in strikes: report:

20140114 PPP Garment-Strike
Garment workers hold a placard during a demonstration outside the Ministry of Labour in Phnom Penh in December. POST STAFF

Labour union officials say inflation and Cambodia’s national election contributed to a nearly 300 per cent increase in strikes last year over 2012.

An annual study of Cambodia’s labour market released yesterday by the Free Trade Union counted 381 industrial strikes in the Kingdom in 2013. The FTU reported just 101 strike actions for 2012.

“The high cost of merchandise, rental houses and food is the reason why the number of strikes is increasing so much,” FTU president Chea Mony told the Post yesterday. “When everything gets more expensive, it leads to workers demanding pay raises and increased benefits.”

Among the wage-driven strikes last year was a national garment worker strike that began on December 24 after the Ministry of Labour set the 2014 minimum monthly wage for garment and shoe factory employees at $95, a figure $65 less than the $160 unions demanded. A week later, the Labour Ministry raised the 2014 floor wage to $100, but unions balked at the small increase and continued striking.
read more.
PPP new

* Free Trade Union Reports Overall Jump in Labor Strikes in 2013:

The Free Trade Union (FTU) on Monday reported an overall increase in industrial action by its local branches last year with 136 total strikes in the first 11 months of 2013, up 35 percent from all of 2012, when there were 101 strikes by its members.

This increase does not include the 241 strikes by FTU members in December during nationwide strikes, which culminated in police shooting dead five workers and wounding more than 40 on January 3.
Chea Mony, president of the FTU, said the heightened industrial unrest among his workers was a result of the rising cost of living.

“There were a lot of strikes and protests increased because of inflation, so the workers had to demand more salary,” he said. “Also the factory workers are forced to work overtime.”
In order to reduce industrial action, Mr. Mony suggested that the government and factory owners should stop intimidating and firing union activists, and instead deal with the root causes of labor strikes: low salary and mandatory overtime.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* NGOs push for more international pressure:

Civil society groups yesterday urged the international community to put more pressure on the government to ensure the safety of prisoners arrested in recent crackdowns and to prevent further police and military violence against civilians.

At a press conference yesterday morning, images of soldiers beating and arresting protesters at Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc on January 2 played on a loop beside panellists, who criticised the government’s use of excessive force – including opening fire with live ammunition, killing at least four – at demonstrations this month.

“Those who abuse their power, especially the military and soldiers, cannot go unpunished,” Yeng Virak, executive director of the Community Legal Education Center, told journalists and NGO workers in attendance. “The armed forces and military police beat everyone – young, old, men, women and even children.”
read more.
PPP new

* Group Defies Government Ban to Demand Detainees’ Release:

Defying a new ban on public gatherings, more than 50 activists and monks gathered outside the local U.N. human rights office Monday morning to demand the immediate release of 23 men who were arrested earlier this month during violent clashes between police and garment workers.

The 23 men were arrested during two days of demonstrations for higher garment sector wages that ended in the fatal shooting of five protesters by military police outside a Phnom Penh factory on January 3.

The Interior Ministry ordered a freeze on public gatherings of 10 or more people the next day, and the 23 men have since been charged with inciting violence and damage to private property. They each face up to 15 years in jail.

Taking advantage of the latest visit from the U.N.’s human rights envoy to Cambodia, Surya Subedi, who arrived Sunday, activists, monks and relatives of the 23 detained men met outside the U.N. office with banners and a petition asking the envoy to help secure the prisoners’ release.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Government Urged to Ease Pressure on Unions:

Visiting representatives from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) on Monday urged the Labor Ministry to withdraw its threat to revoke the licenses of six unions behind recent strikes, and to drop legal proceedings against union leader Rong Chhun.

ITUC deputy general-secretary Jaap Wienen, whose Belgium-based group works with unions around the world including Mr. Chhun’s Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said he delivered the “advice” at a private meeting with Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng on Monday morning.

His visit follows garment worker protests that peaked on January 3 when military police opened fire on demonstrators outside a Phnom Penh factory, killing five and wounding dozens. About 100 factories have since sued the six unions for allegedly inciting the violence, and Mr. Chhun is scheduled for questioning today.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Pressure grows for reforms of Cambodia garment industry:

Four dead. Thirty-seven injured. Three missing. Twenty-three detained.

Driving through the evening streets of Phnom Penh, Kong Athit grimly details the casualty toll of last week’s bloody crackdown in the Cambodian capital. “All of the dead were garment workers. All of the missing are garment workers. Among the 23 detainees, 21 are garment workers.”

Athit is the vice-president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, or C-CAWDU, and his membership has been out in force through rolling protests in the capital, demanding an increase in the minimum monthly wage to $160.
This, the bloodiest protest thus far, commenced Christmas Eve, grew into the hundreds of thousands, and exploded in two violent standoffs between rock-throwing, stick-bearing protesters, who by day earn a meagre living sewing garments for global brand name manufacturers, and local police with AK-47s.
For four days the whereabouts of detainees, charged with “intentional violence” and “intentional damage,” was unknown even to family members. Athit says C-CAWDU leaders are now under close watch by security police.
read more.
the STAR 2

* The ITUC Is Watching You Too:

Mr. Jaap Wienen, Deputy General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) representing 176 million workers worldwide, had a meeting at the Ministry of Labour, giving his full support to the cambodian workers demands of a $US160 monthly salary and the release of the workers and union leaders arrested during the January 2nd and 3rd crackdown (see HERE and HERE).

read & see more.
JohnVink

Cambodian opposition leaders appear in court on suspicion of inciting social unrest:

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy and his deputy Kem Sokha as well as a union chief Rong Chhun faced court hearings on Tuesday on suspicion of inciting garment workers to stage a violent protest on January 3.

Hundreds of their supporters and human rights monitors had gathered outside the court’s building as the court questioned the trio one by one.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Jan. 3 summoned the trio to question about their possible involvement in “inciting to commit crimes or conducting actions that cause serious chaos to social security.”

The summonses came after a garment protest over low wage hike on Phnom Penh’s outskirts on Jan. 3 turned violent, leaving four protesters shot dead, 26 injured and 11 arrested.

After being questioned by the court for several hours, the trio had left the court smiling broadly to their waiting supporters.
“We had answered the court’s questions, we tell the truth,” Sam Rainsy told the cheering crowd, vowing to continue struggling nonviolently to demand justice.
read more. & read more.
GLOBALTIMES CAMHERALD

* Cambodian opposition duo, leader of union in court for ‘inciting’ protest:

Two leaders of Cambodia’s main opposition party and a union chief appeared in court yesterday morning on charges of inciting garment factory workers to protest two weeks ago. Sam Rainsy, president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and his deputy Kem Sokha said they had done nothing wrong and would contest the charges of “inciting civil unrest”.

“The prosecutors have no evidence whatsoever,” opposition member Mu Sochua said outside the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Protests for a higher minimum wage for some 500,000 garment workers culminated in a clash with police on January 3.Five protesters were killed and dozens injured after police opened fire on rock-throwing strikers. Mu Sochua said there should be an independent probe into the use of force by police.
read more.
theNATIONnew

* It will be happening tomorrow in  hnomPenh for #MW160KH:

Mozes
By

$160

20140115

* Garment Workers Go Back on Strike Over Unpaid Wages:

Thousands of garment workers from four factories have gone back on strike this week to protest a decision by their employers to withhold pay for the days they did not work during recent nationwide strikes.

Between 8,500 and 12,500 workers at four factories—two in Phnom Penh, one in Kandal and another in Kompong Cham—have gone back on strike, union representatives and workers said Tuesday.

“This is the second day of strikes by workers who are demanding that the two factories [in Phnom Penh] pay them because they cut their wages 100 percent for the time they were off during the strike,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

Union representatives at the two other factories said workers there were striking for the same reason.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Wages on par with regional standard: PM :

Amid calls for the government to raise Cambodian garment workers’ minimum monthly wage to $160, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said that wages garment workers earn fall in line with regional standards.

In a speech at a groundbreaking ceremony for a bridge project in Kandal province yesterday, the premier asserted that garment workers in neighbouring countries and Cambodian workers in other industries earn less than Cambodian apparel workers, and garment factories cannot afford the increase unions demand.

“I asked the Vietnamese Prime Minister about the minimum wage of garment workers in Vietnam; he said they get more than $100 per month,” Hun Sen said. “If [we] compare this to our increase to $100, it’s nearly the same as Vietnam, but higher than India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Laos.”

Hun Sen added that garment factories could not afford a sudden jump to $160 from last year’s minimum wage decree of $80, which includes a $5 health bonus.
read more.
PPP new

* Hun Sen Says He’s Here to Stay; Higher Wages Must Wait:

Prime Minister Hun Sen used a groundbreaking ceremony for a new bridge linking Cambodia to Vietnam on Tuesday to reiterate that he has no plans to step down from his position, and told opposition supporters who have called for his ouster to settle in for a long wait.

The ceremony for the $38.4 million Chrey Thom bridge in Kandal province’s Koh Thom district, which was agreed on during Mr. Hun Sen’s trip to Vietnam last month, came on the third day of a three-day visit by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* PM’s Reaction to Demand for Double Pay Rise:

Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has made his first public reaction to the request to double the garment workers’ monthly minimum wage.

The increase of the garment workers’ minimum wage to US$160 per month is impossible, underlined the Cambodian premier while he was presiding over the groundbreaking ceremony of Chrey Thom-Long Binh Bridge in Koh Thom, Cambodia’s province of Kandal, this morning.

The pay rise should be done in accordance with the ability, said Samdech Techo Hun Sen, stressing that the minimum wage in Cambodia is higher than in other countries such as India, Bangladesh, ….
read more.
CA akp

* Questioning draws rally:

Opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha were questioned at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, but were released without charge in a case they say amounts to nothing more than political machinations by the ruling party.

The duo, along with unionist Rong Chhun, arrived at the court separately yesterday morning to face questioning over claims they incited garment workers to commit crimes and disrupt social order after their strikes took a violent turn earlier this month.

“They just asked us questions in order to assess our possible involvement in the worker demonstrations, so we have explained to them [that] even though we support the workers’ cause, we have never been involved in any act of violence,” Rainsy said at a press conference following the questioning.
read more.
PPP new

* ILO statement on Cambodia:

The ILO deplores the loss of life and expresses its deep concern as regards the deaths, assaults and arrests of workers during the latest strike in Cambodia.

The ILO calls on the Government to launch an independent inquiry without delay to determine the justification for the action taken by the police, to determine responsibilities, punish those responsible and prevent the repetition of such acts. Authorities should resort to the use of force only in situations where law and order is seriously threatened.

As regards the allegations of arrests, the ILO recalls that the detention of trade unionists for reasons related to their activities in defence of workers’ interests constitutes a serious interference with civil liberties in general and trade union rights in particular.
read more.
ILO

* Confidence needed to keep jobs:

Dear Editor,

When workers took to the streets and protested for an immediate 100 per cent wage increase of up to $160 within a year, in hindsight I keep asking myself what should be the options for civil servants and university graduates who earn less than $100?

With 300,000 youth entering the job market each year, work is increasingly difficult to find, even for many university graduates, prompting some of them to take jobs with meager salaries in order to gain experience and to build skills to compete in the increasingly fierce job market.

For these people, should they also take to the streets or should they change their jobs to work at factories?
read more.
PPP new

$160

20140116

* Manhattan workers on strike again:

More than 1,000 workers at the Manhattan (Cambodia) Co Ltd garment factory in Kampong Cham province are striking in the wake of factory management’s reaction to their last strike action.

Employees walked off the job nearly two weeks ago, after the suspension of seven Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) representatives who allegedly led workers to participate in a previous nationwide garment strike.

“Some workers who joined the mass demonstration … returned to work,” said Kim Oun, one of the suspended employees. “But most of the workers refused, because their seven union representatives were suspended from work and sued in court.”

Workers are demanding the factory drop court complaints filed against four of the reps, and not punish returning employees, Oun said.
An unnamed provincial Labour Department official said the department would meet with the union to find a solution today.
to read.
PPP new

* Strike action still on table, unions say:

Leaders of unions that declared a nationwide garment worker strike said the work stoppage and protests, which they temporarily suspended, will resume unless government officials renegotiate the industry’s minimum wage.

The announcement was their first since authorities cracked down on strike demonstrations on January 2 and opened fire on protesters near Canadia Industrial Park the following day, killing at least four.

Speaking at a forum, union heads appealed to the government to release 23 people arrested during demonstrations and to hold authorities accountable for the deadly shooting, in addition to entering into minimum wage negotiations with unions.

“We won’t suspend [the strike] too long; if there is no solution, we will re-declare a grand strike,” Rong Chhun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Unions, said at the forum. “We will prepare for [more] gatherings.”

The minimum wage for employees at garment and shoe factories now stands at $80 per month, which includes a $5 health bonus. The Ministry of Labour last month announced the minimum wage would climb to $95 in 2014, but later amended the decision, setting this year’s industry floor wage at $100.
read more.
PPP new

* Labor unions ask to resume talk, set up scientific wage system:

The labor unions asked to set up a scientific wage system to solve the wage crisis while they continue to demand a monthly wage of USD160, which can allow the workers to live a decent life.

They made such an appeal during a press conference on Wednesday. During the conference, they also urged to restart the negotiation on the minimum wage, warning that they just suspend the strike and if necessary, they will go on strike again in case there is no solution to their demand.

“To set up this system, we request the ILO’s technical assistance, which is more neutral, reliable and acceptable to all parties concerned,” said the joint statement released Wednesday by the main labor unions.

The unions would like to stress that the monthly minimum wage of $100 cannot ensure a decent living wage. Based on a research conducted by the tripartite committee with the agreement of all parties, it was found that workers spend from $157 to $177 per month, and the Ministry of Planning’s report also found a living cost of $164 per month per person.

Representatives from international unions, national and international organisations, buyers and other stakeholders have recently confirmed that workers live in an extremely difficult condition. The government and employers are, therefore, required to provide a fair minimum wage for workers and to unconditionally set free all the detained workers and human rights activists involved in the recent wage protest.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Unions Warn of More Strikes Unless Wage Talks Resume:

The trade unions behind recently suspended nationwide strikes defended their ongoing demand for a $160 monthly minimum wage for the country’s 600,000 garment workers on Wednesday, and vowed to resume the strikes if the government and factories did not agree to negotiations soon.

“We just suspend it [the strikes] for a time,” said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions. “If there is no…appropriate solution for the workers, there will be a declaration for [another] mass strike, a peaceful mass strike.”

The strikes had forced many of the country’s 500-plus garment factories to shut down or scale back production for several days and came to a violent end on January 3 when military police shot into crowds of protesters outside a Phnom Penh factory, killing five and wounding dozens.

Eight unions Wednesday put out a statement calling for wage negotiations to resume and defended their pay demand at a press conference in Phnom Penh amid the government’s refusal to push the minimum wage—now set at $80 a month—past $100.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Garment Workers Continue Striking Over Unpaid Wages:

Workers at two factories continued striking Wednesday to demand that their employers pay them half their wages for the days they spent on strike during mass garment sector demonstrations earlier this month.

About 3,000 workers from Quint Major Industrial garment factory in Kandal province stayed away from work and instead held a protest march down National Road 4 to demand that they receive at least half pay for the days they spent striking.

The workers had marched about half a kilometer from the factory toward the local district office before management told them they were willing to negotiate, said Seang Rithy, head of the Cambodian Labor Solidarity Union Federation.

“Our workers demand 50 percent for the days on strike, but the company has not yet responded to our request and they will give an answer [today],” he said. “All the workers pledge not to return if the company does not pay them 50 percent for the days on strike.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Despite illness, no bail for labour activist:

Labour activist Vorn Pov, who is facing serious health issues while being held in pre-trial detention in Kampong Cham’s Correctional Centre 3 prison, has been denied bail by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

His NGO-provided lawyer, San Sokunthear, immediately filed an appeal against the bail denial yesterday, saying that her client’s health is deteriorating.
“He was already sick, but since he was beaten, his illness has become more serious.”
Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), was arrested along with 22 factory workers and activists during a two-day police crackdown on protesting garment workers earlier this month.
The other 22 detainees will apply for bail today, according to lawyers.
read more.
PPP new

* Dead mourned: Community, monks hold ceremony:

Monks, Boeung Kak villagers, union representatives and the families of victims shot dead during clashes between striking garment workers and military police on January 3 yesterday held a ritual for those killed.

Som Thai, 50, the mother of 26-year-old victim Sam Ravy said she was furious that authorities had taken no responsibility for shooting her son, a Chinese translator at the Yuming Da garment factory.

Khat Somneang, the wife of victim Kem Phalleap, 26, said she had warned her husband not to protest due to the possibility of violence.

“A day before the incident, my husband called and told me that workers in his factory were protesting for $160 per month and he had also joined them since it was for the benefit of all workers. I [said] not to stand out too much.… He told me that police might not use their weapons again. But in the end, they shot him dead, leaving me and our child,” she said.
to read.
PPP new

* Despite Violence, Cambodian Workers Vow To Continue Their Fight:

Though Cambodia’s days of colonialization, war and genocide may be over, the country is still wrestling with political turmoil.

At the start of the new year, when workers massed in Phnom Penh to demand a fair minimum wage, the government responded with a spray of bullets.

A major garment worker strike in December capped a recent groundswell of protest in the country’s capital. After deeming insufficient the government’s proposed hike of the minimum wage to $95, labor leaders aligned with the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to shutter factories and bring large crowds into the streets, concluding a year of labor agitation that saw more than 130 strikes.

Newly reelected Prime Minister Hun Sen—a former Khmer Rouge official whose legitimacy has been questioned amid accusations of rigging last summer’s election—took the protests as an opportunity to suppress both the pro-democracy and labor movements with one fierce blow. On January 3, police responded to protesters’ bottles and petrol bombs with live ammunition, killing five and injuring dozens. More than twenty were detained, and some are reportedly still being held incommunicado.
read more.
INTHESETIMES

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20140102 LICADHO

* One Garment Strike Ends, Two Begin, Over Missing Pay:

Garment workers at a Kandal province factory ended their most recent strike Thursday after management agreed to pay out part of their wages for the days they were absent during a previous strike, while workers at a Phnom Penh factory went back on strike because their employers would not agree to give them strike pay.

About 3,000 employees of Kandal’s Quint Major Industrial went on strike this week to demand that the owners pay them at least half their wages for the days in December they had joined nationwide strikes demanding a higher minimum wage for the entire garment sector.

They ended their latest strike Thursday after the factory agreed to pay them 30 percent for the days they were on strike, said Seang Rithy, head of the Cambodian Labor Solidarity Union Federation.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Retail associations urge talks:

Six major retail, footwear and garment industry associations whose members account for over 90 per cent of garment imports in the US and Canada have called on the Cambodian government, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and unions to resume wage negotiations.

The open letter, dated January 15, is addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen, GMAC general secretary Ken Loo and five of the unions at the centre of the ongoing dispute over the minimum monthly garment salary.

“Our industry is committed to ensuring that all the products that they produce, source and sell are manufactured under lawful and humane conditions,” the letter stated. In addition to urging an immediate resumption of talks, the signatories requested for the creation of a regularly-scheduled wage review mechanism, and call on those involved to “end all violence.”

“These actions will not only promote both the short and long-term health and stability of the Cambodian garment and footwear industries, but these actions will also enable the Cambodian garment and footwear industry to maintain the strong relationships it has with our member companies,” the letter goes on to say.
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodia versus ‘cheap China’:

In this week’s interview, Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group, weighs in on the minimum wage debate in Cambodia and discusses the impact that China’s increasing costs will have on the manufacturing industry here, as investors look beyond the world’s second-largest economy.

As the title of your book, The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends that Will Disrupt the World, makes clear, China is no longer the highly desired manufacturing location it once was. What happened?
Chinese factory salaries have gone up 15 to 20 per cent annually for the past five years. High salaries, combined with soaring rents and an ageing population, have squeezed margins for manufacturers, forcing them to relocate to lower cost countries like Cambodia, Indonesia or internally within China to provinces such as Sichuan. Nike, for instance, gets 37 per cent of its products from Vietnam versus 35 per cent from China.

What does such a shift mean for the region?
There are great opportunities for Cambodia and ASEAN in general to grab market share in the manufacturing sector, especially in light industry. Many apparel and footwear companies are looking to relocate to ASEAN as long as they can find the proper infrastructure and stable government policies. Thailand is attracting more auto sector investment, Bali and other resort areas will benefit from more outbound Chinese tourism.
read more.
PPP new

* Shooting probe urged:

UN rights envoy Surya Subedi wrapped up his six-day fact-finding mission to Cambodia yesterday by calling for a thorough investigation into security forces’ role in the deadly crackdown on garment workers early this month.

He also offered to act as a mediator between the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and said he hoped to see Cambodians heading to the polls after his recommendations were implemented.

“I understand that only alleged protesters and not security forces are being investigated,” he said at an afternoon press conference. “I strongly recommend that an investigation be undertaken on who issued and who carried out the order to shoot; if no such order was given, the individuals who fired their weapons must be brought to justice.”
read & see more.
PPP new

* Ceremony Held for Workers Killed at Veng Sreng:

Dissident monks and political activists hosted a ceremony Thursday for the protesting garment workers killed by military police during their repression of stone-throwing demonstrators on Veng Sreng Street two weeks ago.

The hourlong ceremony, held at the home of housing rights activist Tep Vanny in the Boeng Kak community, started at 9:30 a.m. with a procession of about 50 people who presented offerings of small sums of money, water, rice and noodles to some 200 monks at a shrine set up in honor of the five slain protesters, and the more than 40 other workers wounded during the January 3 demonstration.

After a short service by the monks, members of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice (IMNSJ), people lit incense and toured a memorial inside Ms. Vanny’s house where pictures of four people confirmed killed by local rights group Licadho during the Veng Sreng shootings were displayed.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Pressure mounts for the release of 23 detainees in deadly clashes:

Some 50 representatives from Boeung Kok, a long-disputed property development site in Phnom Penh, rallied Friday in front of the US Embassy to seek the release of 23 people arrested in violent clashes earlier this month.

“On January 2, workers protested at Yakjin factory to demand wage increase, so the human right defenders went to the site to monitor and coordinate the protest, but later the soldiers led by Chab Pheakdey suppressed the workers and human right defenders, and arrested 23 people,” said a petition presented to William E. Todd, the US Ambassador to Cambodia.

The protesters sought intervention from the US Embassy to ask the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to release and drop charges against the arrestees including Vorn Pov, Theng Savoeun, and Chan Puthisak.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Lawyers Submit Bail Requests for Imprisoned Protesters:

Ten lawyers representing 22 of the 23 striking workers, union officials and political activists imprisoned at a maximum-security prison in Kompong Cham province since their arrests at two protests in Phnom Penh earlier this month submitted bail requests for their clients Thursday, one of the lawyers said.

The requests for the prisoners, detained in the notorious Correctional Center 3 (CC3), were submitted to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, where the 23 have been charged with intentional violence and property destruction, said Ham Surith, a Community Legal Education Center lawyer.

Vorn Pao, a prominent union leader, was not included in the requests as his application for bail was rejected last week.

“We have called on the court to release the 22 people, since they are all both workers and breadwinners. Their families rely on them,” Mr. Surith said. “The 22 people can go live with their families, and if the court wants to call on them to appear at the court, they will show up as requested.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* UN Envoy Condemns Shooting of Striking Garment Workers:

U.N. human rights envoy Surya Subedi on Thursday condemned the State’s recent use of lethal force against protesters and called for an independent investigation into the incident earlier this month when military police shot dead five striking garment workers and wounded more than 40.

At a press conference at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Phnom Penh to wrap up his 10th mission to Cambodia, Mr. Subedi said he had initially welcomed large-scale demonstrations at the end of 2013 as “a sign of maturing democracy in Cambodia.”

However, he said, the government’s deadly response to garment strikes in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district on January 3, during which five people were killed, marked “a worrying change from a tolerant to a repressive response of the government to public protests.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* UN urges Cambodia’s rival leaders to talk:

A United Nations envoy says country stands at a ‘crossroads’ after a bloody break-up of protests in December.

A UN envoy has urged Cambodia’s political leader to return to the negotiating table, saying the country stand at “a crucial crossroads” following a bloody crackdown by security forces on street protests.

Surya Subedi, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Cambodia, said on Thursday politicians on both sides of the kingdom’s deep political divide should “embrace change”.
“It is imperative for the leaders to overcome the mistrust and immediately return to the negotiating table without further delay,” he told reporters during a fact-finding visit to the country.

He urged the government to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into the protest crackdown, saying the measures taken did not seem to respect international laws.
read more.
aljazeera

* Cambodia’s Human Rights in focus: Full text of UN envoy:

The UN envoy concluded his six-day visit to Cambodia producing a concrete report, which reflects both the positive and negative aspects of human rights situation in the Kingdom.

As for the post-election political impasse, Prof. Surya P. Subedi, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, recommended for political reconciliation between the two main parties, which won the 2013 elections.

Below is the full text of his report.

During the mission, I met with Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Ministers Sok An and Hor Namhong, Senior Minister and President of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee Om Yengtieng, Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Sam Heng, Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana, Secretary of State of Ministry of Interior Prom Sokha and Governor of Phnom Penh Pa Socheat Vong.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Government bans march to mark death of union leader:

Phnom Penh Authority didn’t allow Chea Mony, president of Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia (FTUWC), to march along the street to mark 10th anniversary of the death of his broter , Chea Vichea.

The authority, however, allowed union leader Chea Mony and his members to rally and place flowers at Chea Vichea’s statute which is located near Wat Langka.

“Authority announced that FTUWC led by Chea Mony can gather on January 22 to commemorate the death of Chea Vichea by placing the flowers at the statute as did every year,” said Man Senghak, FTUWC representative who attended the meeting today with the authority.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* BetterFactories Media updates 10-17January 2014, Unions warn of more strikes unless wage talks resume:

* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2014-01-10 Despite bail, 15 years old still in jail
2014-01-10 Garment sector economics
2014-01-13 A family’s anguish
2014-01-13 Another dark day in our history
2014-01-13 Labour rallies move overseas
2014-01-14 Confidence needed to keep jobs
2014-01-14 NGOs push for more international pressure
2014-01-14 Textile work returns to Spain
2014-01-15 No union for workers in food biz
2014-01-15 Questioning draws rally
2014-01-15 Staffers walk at tech NGO
2014-01-15 Wages on par with regional standard PM
2014-01-16 Despite illness, no bail for Pov
2014-01-16 Envoy, PM talk deadlock
2014-01-16 Strike action still on table, unions say
2014-01-17 Cambodia versus ‘Cheap China’
2014-01-17 Man healed, held against will
2014-01-17 Manhattan workers on strike again
2014-01-17 Retail associations urge talks
2014-01-17 Shooting probe urged

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2013-01-11-12 Living hand to mouth
2014-01-10 100 factories suing unions behind strike
2014-01-10 Families of killed and missing protesters compile complaints
2014-01-10 Lawyers prevented from seeing protest detainees at CC3
2014-01-10 Over $1,500 raised for paralyzed protester
2014-01-11-12 Committees to research minimum wages study, ‘Study Killings’
2014-01-11-12 Groups demand a mandatory minimum wage threaten protest
2014-01-13 Cambodians and Koreans join protest in Seoul
2014-01-13 CNRP reaffirms commitment to nonviolence
2014-01-13 Factory sets bar for workers’ rights in Dominican Republic
2014-01-13 Relatives call on government to release 23 detainees
2014-01-13 Unions want government, factories to resume wage talks
2014-01-14 Free Trade Union reports overall jump in labour strikes in 2013
2014-01-14 Government urged to ease pressure on unions
2014-01-14 Group defies government ban to demand detainee’s release
2014-01-14 Li and Fung to start factory safety consulting unit
2014-01-14 Opposition CNRP leaders to face court today
2014-01-15 Garment workers go back on strike over unpaid wages
2014-01-15 Hun Sen says he’s here to stay; higher wages must wait
2014-01-15 Supporters rally as court questions CNRP leaders
2014-01-16 Garment workers continue striking over unpaid wages
2014-01-16 Subedi calls for accountability in meeting with Hun Sen
2014-01-16 Unions warn of more strikes unless wage talks resume
2014-01-16 US support to Cambodian military under scrutiny
2014-01-17 Ceremony held for workers killed at Veng Sreng
2014-01-17 Food vendors feel the bite of soaring inflation
2014-01-17 Lawyers submit bail requests for imprisoned protesters
2014-01-17 UN envoy condemns shooting of striking garment workers
2014-01-17 US passes bill to suspend some aid to Cambodia

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

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* What’s the Price of Workers’ Lives in Cambodia?:

By now you’ve heard that military police in Cambodia killed five garment workers demanding a living wage of $160 per month in the early days of 2014, but only some of this is true.

Here’s a slightly more accurate version: On Tuesday, December 24, during a period of nationwide political unrest, the Cambodian government announced a raise of $15 to garment workers’ monthly minimum wage of $80, for a new total of $95 per month, to start in April, 2014. Workers responded the next day by walking off jobs and demanding the current wage be doubled, for a new monthly wage of $160.

The next few days saw the largest demonstrations in the country’s history. Tens of thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – gathered. Protesters were holding demonstrations all over the city: stopping work, blocking roads, holding rallies. The mood of these events was primarily jubilant, although there was a dark side. Numbers of demonstrators continued to swell.
read more.
truthout

* Diplomats, Donors Lobbied to Help Free Jailed Protesters:

Challenging the ban on demonstrations in Phnom Penh, activists rallied Friday at the U.S. Embassy, the Japanese Embassy, the Australian Embassy and the German Embassy before stopping for lunch and rallying again, in the afternoon, at the British Embassy, the European Union and World Bank offices, then marching, finally, to the South Korean Embassy to lobby for the release of protesters jailed earlier this month.

The peaceful, multi-embassy protest was organized by the well-known Boeng Kak housing rights activists, who submitted petitions at each diplomatic compound seeking international pressure to gain the release of 23 people rounded up by paratroopers and military police during the violent and lethal suppression of strike demonstrations in Phnom Penh on January 2 and 3.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Cambodia: Urging garment manufacturers to respect workers’ rights:

In a joint open letter sent today, FIDH and its member organisations in Cambodia, LICADHO and ADHOC, call on the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) to refrain from supporting in any way violent repression or retaliatory measures against strking workers and to meaningfully address workers’ demands.

Joint open letter
To: Mr. Van Sou Ieng
Chairman
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC)

cc.
Samdach Akak Moha Sena Padey Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia
H.E. Sun Chanthol, Senior Minister, Minister for Commerce
H.E. Ith Sam Heng, Minister for Labour and Vocational Training

Subject: Urging garment manufacturers to respect workers’ rights

Dear Mr. Van Sou Ieng,

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO), with 178 national human rights member organizations throughout the world. Our primary and mutual goal is to promote respect for the rights enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
read more.
fidh

* One more association leader arrested during prayer calling for release of 23 detained leaders & workers:

A gathering this afternoon calling for the release of the 23 workers and rights defenders arrested earlier this month, and for an increase in the minimum wage, has ended with the arrest of Sokchhun Oeung, Vice President of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA). Vorn Pao, President of IDEA, was among the 23 rights defenders and workers arrested earlier in the month.

At 4pm, before the gathering began, media and human rights observers waiting at Wat Ounalom for the main group to arrive were forced out of the grounds by about 50 security guards and civilians wearing black motorcycle helmets.
The group moved to Preah Ong Dongkau spirit house in front of the Royal Palace, closely followed by the guards and civilians. At about 5pm, there were multiple standoffs which involved the guards intimidating and pushing demonstrators for over an hour.
read more.
licadho

* CCHR releases a Policy Brief on the garment industry in Cambodia outlining the current state of human rights in the industry and offering recommendations for reform:

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) releases today – 19 January 2014 – a Policy Brief on the Garment Industry in the Kingdom of Cambodia (“Cambodia”). In light of growing human rights concerns with regards to the garment industry, the Policy Brief collates data gathered by CCHR’s researchers and offers concrete policy and legislative recommendations for reforms to all stakeholders, which would substantially improve the situation.

Despite a relatively protective legal and policy framework and several national-level policies, labor rights continue to be violated with alarming frequency throughout the Cambodian garment industry.
The Cambodian garment industry is now plagued with a myriad of human rights concerns. 2014 has already seen widespread protests by garment workers demanding a fair wage, which were met with extreme police violence that resulted in five deaths and dozens of injuries.

Efforts to silence garment workers did not stop with the use of force but has continued with union members fired as a punishment for striking.
The Policy Brief provides a background to the Cambodian garment industry, as well as an overview of the human rights concerns related to the garment industry in Cambodia, including workplace conditions, wages and living conditions, contracts and job security, reproductive and maternal health, gender-based
violence and freedom of association. Furthermore, it reviews the domestic and international legal framework related to labor and collective bargaining rights.
read more.
CCHR

* Treating garment workers in Cambodia as terrorists:

In the Canadia Industrial Park, factories are mostly back in operation, bustling to fulfill orders for major Western labels. There are few signs of the brutal crackdown that recently afflicted this complex on the Cambodian capital’s southern outskirts.

Two weeks ago, the Cambodian military wielded guns and steel pipes to break up strikes by garment workers, who oppose the country’s new $95 monthly minimum wage. Five demonstrators died and dozens were injured.

Tensions remain high. The Cambodian government has banned protests indefinitely. More than 100 factory owners have gone on the offensive, filing lawsuits against the labor unions and claiming enormous losses and property damage.
read more.
globalpost

* Despite Violence, Cambodian Workers Vow To Continue Their Fight:

Though Cambodia’s days of colonialization, war and genocide may be over, the country is still wrestling with political turmoil.

At the start of the new year, when workers massed in Phnom Penh to demand a fair minimum wage, the government responded with a spray of bullets.

A major garment worker strike in December capped a recent groundswell of protest in the country’s capital. After deeming insufficient the government’s proposed hike of the minimum wage to $95, labor leaders aligned with the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to shutter factories and bring large crowds into the streets, concluding a year of labor agitation that saw more than 130 strikes.
read more.
huffpost

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* Brands call for trade union law:

International clothing brands and union groups presented a united front on Friday, sending a letter signed by 30 groups to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s office.

The letter asks the Cambodian government to address the issues surrounding the rights of 23 people detained since deadly garment worker demonstrations on January 2 and 3 and the violation of citizens’ freedom of association. It also asks the government to introduce a trade union law consistent with International Labour Organization standards, begin a new minimum wage-setting process for the garment industry and meet with signatories of the letter on February 3.

“They deserve praise,” Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker-elect Mu Sochua said yesterday. “This is the strongest the brands and the global unions have come together.”

Signatories to the letter include Adidas, American Eagle Outfitters, Bonmarche, C&A Europe, Debenhams, Esprit, Fifth and Pacific Companies, Gap, H&M, Inditex, IndustriALL Global Union, the International Trade Union Confederation, Levi Strauss & Co, Lululemon Athletica, Migros, N Brown Group, New Balance, New Look, Nike, Orsay, Primark, Puma, PVH, Tchibo, Tesco, The Jones Group, The Walt Disney Company, Under Armour, UNI Global Union and Walmart.

The letter also states the signatory groups’ strong support of the United Nations’ request for Cambodia to launch a “prompt and thorough” investigation into crackdowns on demonstrations on January 2 and 3 that left at least four dead, dozens injured and 23 detained.
read more. & read more.
PPP new Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Global unions and 30 major brands call on Cambodian government to investigate deadly violence:

IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union, and the ITUC have joined forces with 30 global brands to urge the Cambodian government to investigate the recent use of deadly force against striking garment workers.

IndustriALL and UNI, whose joint efforts resulted in the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, say they are encouraged that brands are taking responsibility for their production and are demanding a change from the Cambodian government.

The letter, dated Friday, urged the government to launch a new process to set minimum wages and to respect the rights of workers and trade unions. The brands also asked for a meeting with Mr. Hun Sen himself.
The group expressed its concern at the killing and wounding of workers and bystanders by security forces on 2 and 3 January, when peaceful demonstrations were taking place over an increase in the minimum wage.
read more. & to read. & read more.
Home UNI Global Union

* Union leader released:

Phnom Penh Municipal Police this morning released a union leader they scooped off the street yesterday evening for allegedly leading a protest despite a ban on public demonstrations.

Sok Chhun Oeung, acting president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), left the police station at about 10am, after signing a contract promising he would not incite or participate in demonstrations and report to police any illegal activity of which he becomes aware, Oeung told the Post this morning.

“The authorities who arrested me violated the constitutional law of Cambodia,” Oeung said in a phone interview. “This action is a violation of human rights, as well.”

Oeung’s arrest at about 5:30pm yesterday occurred as IDEA members attempted to hold a vigil for 23 people – including IDEA’s president, Vorn Pov – who were arrested in demonstrations supporting a garment worker strike on January 2 and 3. Oeung, IDEA’s vice president, has served as acting president since Pov’s arrest.
read more. & read more.
PPP new licadho

* Union Leader Grabbed Off Street After Peaceful Protest:

Riot police and security guards arrested a union leader for organizing a small rally on Phnom Penh’s busy riverside Sunday afternoon to demand the release of a fellow union leader beaten and arrested by police at a protest earlier this month.

The arrest of Sok Chhun Oeung, vice president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), brings to 24 the number of protesters detained by authorities in Phnom Penh since IDEA president Vorn Pao and nine others were beaten and arrested on January 2 by paratroopers. Another 13 people were arrested the next day, when police also shot dead five garment workers protesting for higher wages.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Rally for 23 sees arrest tally grow:

Riot police arrested an NGO leader near the Royal Palace on Phnom Penh’s Riverside yesterday in an apparent bid to enforce an ongoing ban on public gatherings.

As security guards pushed and scuffled with bystanders and members of several NGOs during an attempt to hold a vigil for 23 people in custody after being arrested at protests supporting a garment worker strike on January 2 and 3, two pick-up trucks full of riot police stopped at about 5:30pm.

Police in the back hopped out of one of the trucks and shoved their way towards Sok Chhun Oeung, who has served as acting president of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) since the NGO’s president, Vorn Pov, was arrested during a demonstration at the Yakjin garment factory on January 2.

“I think their primary reason [for the arrest] is complete intolerance of gatherings,” Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said. “[Demonstrators] did nothing except sing and ask for the release of the 23 people.”
read & see more. & read more.
PPP new CAMHERALD

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* Marchers to flout ban on protests:

Hundreds of civil society representatives, garment workers and community groups are expected to take to the streets this morning to deliver petitions to foreign embassies calling on the government to release the 23 people arrested during garment worker strikes earlier this month and find justice for those injured and killed in the violence.

While organisers insist their actions do not constitute a march, the three-day event involving 19 embassies comes two days after the government’s ban on public assembly and demonstrations was tested by a significantly smaller event, with riot police disrupting a vigil for the 23 in custody and making one arrest near the Royal Palace on Sunday.
A military police spokesman yesterday said the group would be “dispersed” if it caused traffic jams or disrupted social order.

Petitions signed by 181 local and regional civil society organisations are to be hand-delivered to the US, UK, French, German and Japanese embassies from 8am this morning, with seven more embassies scheduled for Wednesday and another seven, plus UN offices, for Thursday.

“We strongly condemn the use of brutally excessive force, arbitrary arrests, killings and inhumane treatment by the Cambodian authorities,” a joint statement released yesterday by the civil society groups says.
“We appeal to the international community to take action on this inhumane treatment on Cambodian citizens.”
read more.
PPP new

* 11 Activists Arrested While Petitioning US, French Embassies:

District security guards this morning arrested 11 political activists taking part in a protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh against the imprisonment of 23 protesters who were beaten and arrested earlier this month.

The protesters, including union leader Rong Chhun and prominent Boeng Kak community activist Tep Vanny, had gathered in front of the embassy at 8:15 a.m. in defiance of a recent ban on public assembly put in place after a wave of violent suppression initiated by the CPP government at the beginning of the year.
At 8:30 a.m., the security guards, wearing full-faced black helmets, entered the crowd, surrounded Ms. Vanny and pulled her into a nearby unmarked white van before driving away.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

Eleven more human rights defenders detained:

Eleven people have been detained following a gathering outside the US embassy in Phnom Penh this morning to deliver a petition signed by 182 groups calling for the release of the 23 jailed during violent crackdowns earlier this month.

The arrested people are: Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), Boeung Kak lake activists Tep Vanny, Yorm Bopha, Song Sreyleap, Pan Chunreth, Bov Sorphea, Erm Sreytouch, and Ngoun Kimlang, as well as Choung Sopheap, activist from Thmor Kaul airport-area community, Long Kim Heang, staff member of Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), and Cheang Thida, activist of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU).

Additionally, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court just informed NGO lawyers that the 22 of the 23 arrested earlier this month and detained in CC3 have been refused bail release. The Phnom Penh Appeal Court deadline for announcing the bail decision for Vorn Pao, president of Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), is February 3, 2014.
to read.
licadho

* 11 more arrested:

Eleven rights activists were detained by Phnom Penh Municipal security forces this morning after they marched to the US Embassy to deliver a petition calling for the release of 23 people jailed during the brutal crackdown earlier this month.

The arrested activists, including Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, and Boeung Kak lake activists Tep Vanny and Yorm Bopha, were detained by district security forces wearing black helmets after delivering the petition.

Six people were detained outside the US Embassy and five more, including Chhun, were taken away about 10 minutes later in a police van on their way to the French Embassy.
read more.
PPP new

* Eleven rights defenders detained this morning are released:

The eleven human rights defenders detained this morning during an embassy march to petition diplomatic intervention to release the 23 protesters held in CC3 have been released from the Phnom Penh municipal police station.

They were released without charge, but only after signing a letter promising not to participate in future demonstrations.
to read.
licadho

* The human right to a living wage is far from being won in Cambodia:

I was deeply saddened to read the article by Anne Elizabeth Moore titled “What’s the Price of Workers’ Lives in Cambodia?” published on January 17 in the US-based Truth-out.org website.

This story contained an outrageous attack on the Cambodian garment workers demonstration over the minimum wage by a well-known Cambodian blogger, academic and human rights activist Sopheap Chak.
I am used to hearing such arguments from employers as a way to escape from their responsibility to pay workers a decent wage, but I did not expect this from an experienced human rights activist.

Chak, program director for the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR), claimed she has been watching the recent events closely, but disparaged the garment workers’ campaign for a US$160 a month minimum wage.

“You have to come up with the data, come up with a reason why $160 now,” she said in an interview for the article which presented the strike as not really being “about the struggle for living wages in the garment factories” but the workers’ “bodies put to service toward a larger political agenda” of the opposition politician Sam Rainsy’s “bid for power”.
read more.
GREENLEFTau

* Union Leader Released; ‘Free the 23’ Protests To Continue:

Phnom Penh police released union leader Sok Chhun Oeung from custody Monday, a day after dragging him off the street at a peaceful protest he had organized along Phnom Penh’s riverside against the detention of 23 men still in jail for participating in demonstrations over garment factory wages earlier this month.

Remaining defiant on his release, Mr. Chhun Oeung joined human rights groups in denouncing his arrest as illegal and said his union for motorcycle taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, known as the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), would organize an even bigger rally soon in spite of a standing government ban on public gatherings.
read more. & read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo PPP new

* Brain Surgery for Teenager Beaten on Veng Sreng:

Thet Theng has lost the use of his arm.

For 18 days, his mother, a constant at his bedside in the Intensive Care Unit of the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh, has repeated the same process: lifting her son’s right arm into the air and hoping that he can muster the strength to keep it up there.

On Monday, like every day he has spent in the hospital, Theng’s lame arm immediately flopped to his side. Military police brutally beat the 18-year-old garment worker with truncheons while he was attending a protest for higher wages on January 3 on Veng Sreng Street.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

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* 11 Activists Arrested for Views That ‘Impact Public Order’:

Eleven political activists were pulled off the street by helmeted security guards Tuesday morning during a peaceful march to foreign embassies to deliver petitions calling for an end to government violence and the release of 23 imprisoned activists and strikers.

The 11 protesters—10 land rights activists and Rong Chhun, a prominent opposition-aligned labor activist—were arrested for disturbing public order, City Hall said. They were held at Phnom Penh municipal police headquarters for about five hours before being released shortly before 2 p.m.

“We arrested them because the rally and the expression of their views impact public order and public security,” City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Video: When Prayers Meet Supression: Calling for the Release of the 23:

On the evening of January 19, 2014, civil society groups gathered nearby the Royal Palace to call for the release of the 23 workers and rights defenders arrested earlier this month, and for an increase in the minimum wage.

Security guards and police interfered with the peaceful assembly and one association leader was detained overnight.
see video.
licadho

* Cambodian garment workers’ battle for labour rights deserves our support:

People in the UK must voice their disapproval of the intolerable conditions facing textile workers in Cambodia and Bangladesh

Last month, some of us will have unwrapped a new scarf, some running shoes or perhaps an old fashioned Christmas jumper. But few of us in the UK would have been aware that on 24 December, thousands of the people who made these items were on strike, protesting for better pay. Or that less than two weeks later, some of them would be dead.

The garment industry is a $5bn (£3bn) a year business for Cambodia. The clothes the country makes for high-street brands make textiles the country’s largest export. And just last month, the Guardian reported that the country “has a reputation for fair treatment of workers”.

But, as the new year violence illustrates, something has gone badly wrong. Tied up in opposition protests for new elections, Cambodia’s garment workers’ call for a higher minimum wage started a chain of events that led to a brutal police crackdown and the deaths of four of those on the picket line.
read more.
GUARDIAN

* The Assassination of Union Leader Chea Vichea—A Decade On:

Ten years after his assassination, friends and associates remember Chea Vichea, the founding president of the Free Trade Union, as a quiet man but a charismatic leader, passionate about labor issues and the right for workers to collectively bargain for higher wages and better conditions.

“He was a very disciplined person. He liked to spend time with his friends and was friendly with people. When they wanted him to explain things, he did it smoothly, without arrogance, and with patience,” said Chea Mony, Chea Vichea’s brother and current president of the FTU.

“He was very discreet and very humble, a modest man,” said opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who helped Chea Vichea found the FTU in 1998.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Chea Vichea: Ten years, no answers:

video interview.
PPP new

* Authority to take actions if Chea Mony leads protest tomorrow (wednesday):

Phnom Penh Municipality authority warned that measures will be taken to maintain public order if Mr. Chea Mony is to lead his Union’s workers to march on 22 January to mark the 10th Anniversary of his slain brother Chea Vichea.

The authority has permitted the gathering only on the site where Chea Vichea’s statue stands, but marching is not allowed.
“We have both informed Chea Mony orally and in writing to the Union and have been working closely on the matter”, said Long Dimanche, spokesperson for Phnom Penh Municipality.

He added that the Municipality was always positive on the request for gathering depending upon calm situation. But this time, we can’t understand why the Union still intends to defy the warning on marching.
“If he defies the warning as stated in the letter, measures will be taken. As this can be compared to rules of playing soccer, if you are against the rule, you will be punished through subsequent 2 yellow cards and the red card will be the expulsion. We will wait and see,” said Long Dimanche.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Union boss’s murder gets day in court:

One of the men suspected in the seven-year-old murder of a Phnom Penh garment factory union representative was tried at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, nearly two years after his conviction in absentia.

Chan Sophon, 35, stood before presiding Judge Kor Vandy in a re-trial of a December 2012 hearing that found him guilty in the February 2007 shooting death of Hy Vuthy, late president of the Free Trade Union at Dangkor district’s Suntex.
read more.
PPP new

* Large protest planned for Sunday:

Amid the continued arrest of activists who have defied a ban on public gatherings, a group of unions and associations yesterday revealed plans for a large demonstration in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on Sunday.

About 10,000 people are expected to attend the rally, according to a letter to Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong, which is signed by nine unions and associations.

“I have not received a reply from City Hall yet, but we will hold the rally if they do not allow it,” said Heng Sam Orn, secretary general of Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economic (IDEA).
read more.
PPP new

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* Minimum wage up for ministerial discussion:

An interministerial committee led by Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon will meet next month to discuss the recent minimum wage increase and subsequent fallout. Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour yesterday told the Post that Prime Minister Hun Sen assigned Chhon to lead the meeting on minimum wage reform.

“Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon was assigned to be the head of a committee to research the minimum wage, and will lead the discussion at a meeting February 5,” Sour said in an interview yesterday.

In addition to members of the Ministry of Labour, attendees next month will also include representatives of the Council of Ministers, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Social Affairs and others, Sour said.

The meeting will take place just over a month after four people were killed supporting a garment worker strike, where workers demanded a minimum wage increase to $160 per month.
An official letter notifying officials of the meeting has not yet been sent, Sour said.
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodia’s 64 trade unions urge gov’t to take legal action against gangster unions:

Cambodia’s 64 trade unions on Wednesday asked the Minister of Labor Ith Samheng to take serious legal action against some gangster unions that have caused riots and illegal strikes as well as intimidations to their members in protests, according to a joint letter.

“We’d like to suggest the Minister of Labor to take serious legal action against union leaders and someone who have incited and committed violence on workers and innocent people during violent demonstrations in order to enforce the effective implementation of the law,” said the letter signed by the leaders of the 64 unions, which represent about 400,000 garment workers.

Som Aun, president of the Cambodian Council of National Union ( CCNU), said that the letter was sent to the Minister of Labor on Wednesday.
“We have got bad experience since Dec. 24 when some trade unions staged protests and their demonstrators went around and destroyed factories’ properties in order to force the workers out to join the demonstrations,” he said.
“Our request to the Minister is to protect security and safety for the factories and the workers in case of any illegal strikes in the future.”
read more.
CHINAORG

* 64 labor unions oppose protest planned for Jan 26:

64 labor unions opposed a bid of eight other unions to hold protest on January 26 to demand wage increase to USD 160, calling on authority to take legal action against those union leaders.

In their joint letter to the Ith Sam Heng, the Minister of Labor and Vocational Training, the union leaders asked authority to take strong action in order to implement procedures of protests to maintain public and security order.

“We supported and called on government to speed up creation of committee to examine the minimum wage for garment and footwear factory workers,” said the labor unions in their letter issued Wednesday.

They also asked government to prevent the costs of rent, water, electricity and transportation from being inflated for workers.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Pro-Government Unions Call for Action Against Leaders of Strikes:

Unions aligned with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government issued a statement Wednesday calling on it to “take action” against union leaders who they accuse of inciting workers to hold strikes and violent demonstrations.

“We would like to request [CPP Labor Minister] Ith Sam Heng to take action against some union leaders and their activists who have incited workers and threatened innocent people with violence during the strikes and demonstrations,” the pro-ruling party unions said in a statement.

“The ministry should take those people to condemn them in accordance with the law,” states the letter, signed by Som Aun, Chhum Socheat and Chuom Mom Thol, presidents of CPP-aligned union confederations.

The same unions issued a statement earlier this month, in the midst of nationwide labor strikes for a higher minimum wage, congratulating the government for its hard work in raising the minimum wage from $80 to $95, which was well below the $160 monthly wage demanded by six nongovernment aligned garment worker unions.

Mr. Mom Thol said Wednesday he was simply endorsing calls by the Labor Minister for unions to stop violating the law through illegal strikes.
“My members are not happy with the incitement to strike because factory managers cut their salary during the protest,” he said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* After Arrests, NGOs Continue Petitioning to ‘Free the 23′ :

Following the arrest of 11 activists on Tuesday as they attempted to deliver a petition to the U.S. and French embassies seeking the release of 23 jailed protesters, NGO representatives quietly delivered similar petitions to the Japanese Embassy and European Union headquarters Wednesday.

The petitioners, representing 181 NGOs and civil society groups, are scheduled to march to the German, South Korean, Australian and Thai embassies this morning to call for pressure on the government to release the 23 protesters, who were imprisoned following clashes with police on January 2 and 3.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court this week denied bail for the 23 accused, citing the need to question them and maintain public order by keeping them incarcerated in a high-security prison located next to the border with Vietnam in Kompong Cham province.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Petitioners set for Round 2 of showdown with City Hall:

Protesters were due to march on four foreign embassies this morning to deliver petitions calling for the release of the 23 detainees held at the remote Correctional Centre 3 after being arrested during the crackdown earlier this month.

The march – to the embassies of Germany, South Korea, Australia and Thailand – comes after 11 activists from the same group representing 181 NGOs were arrested on Tuesday near the US embassy.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said that despite the likelihood that more activists would be grabbed off the streets by private security guards hired by City Hall, the marchers could not turn a blind eye to the detainees’ plight.
“I think there is no choice. The way that we work, there are arrests, we go to prison,” he said. “How can we close our eyes, close our ears?”

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), who was one of the 11 arrested on Tuesday’s march, said he would march again today.
“I am not worried about my security, and I am not scared of being arrested again, because we are not wrong. We’re just bringing petitions to the embassies,” he said.
read more.
PPP new

* Civil society groups appeal for international intervention for the release of 23 protesters:

181 national and international non-governmental organizations handed over their petitions to foreign embassies on Thursday to seek the release of 23 people who were arrested in protest crackdowns.

A group of some 50 representatives marched along the streets and submitted the petitions to the German, Sweden and South Korean embassies. They will also go to the Australian embassy.

The march was held without disturbance by authorities.
“We see injustice in society,” Thida Khus, Executive Director of Silaka, told reporters after submitting petition to the South Korean Embassy.
read more.
CAMHERALD

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* Workers strike again to demand strike pay:

About 2,000 workers at Takeo province’s I-Cheng (Cambodia) Cooperation remain on strike today, after management held steady in its refusal to pay employees for days they joined in a national garment worker strike in December and this month.

Sok Chea, Collective Union of Movement of Workers president at I-Cheng, yesterday said negotiations with the factory and the provincial labour department had broken down.
The workers have protested since Tuesday to demand bosses pay their wages for during the previous strike and the current strike, Chea said.
to read.
PPP new

* Unions to Proceed With Mass Rally in Freedom Park Despite Ban:

Unions planning a mass rally at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on Sunday to call for the release of 23 detainees and a higher minimum wage in the garment industry say they will proceed with the event despite City Hall’s decision Thursday to deny permission.

The nine unions, some of them representing the country’s 600,000 garment workers, want a higher minimum wage for the industry and the release of 23 men arrested earlier this month while protesting outside Phnom Penh factories.

The unions had asked the city for permission to stage a rally of 10,000 people despite a ban on public protests the Interior Ministry imposed in Phnom Penh on January 4.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* NGOs Continue to March to ‘Free the 23′:

On their third day of petitioning for the release of 23 activists and striking workers who were imprisoned earlier this month following minimum wage demonstrations, a group of civil society representatives marched to seven embassies in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

Thursday’s march began with about 40 participants and grew to include about 100 civil society representatives.
“We advised people not to use insulting words, or words that affect people’s feelings,” said Nay Vanda, Adhoc’s deputy head of human rights monitoring, who has helped organize the petition drive.
“We just used words calling for the release of the detainees,” he said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Union leaders to hold protests despite warning:

Authority does not allow unionists to hold protests scheduled for 26 January at a Freedom Park until the situation in the Capital return to normalcy. However, the union leaders said they will go ahead with their plan.

The unionists plan to hold protest aiming to demand the wage increase to $160 per month for workers, and the release of 23 people arrested in recent bloody crackdowns, said Yang Sophorn, President of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions.
She said the nine federations and associations still maintain their stance to hold the protest as scheduled.
Kert Chhae, chief of Phnom Penh administration, said that the City Hall banned any protests and rallies temporarily because the opposition’s recent protests had caused chaos in society, and led to the loss of lives.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Union leader violates protest law: Phnom Penh official:

Phnom Penh official on Wednesday said that union leader Chea Mony violated the protest law and protest ban which was imposed by the government recently for the security concern.

“Chea Mony was violating protest law and Phnom Penh City Hall’s decision, which banned march along the streets until normalization of the situation,” Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Khuong Sreng told The Cambodia Herald by telephone, adding that Chea Mony and other unionists must be responsible before law in case of security issues arise.

The Deputy Governor made the comment after Chea led march along the streets to mark the 10th anniversary of slain prominent labor union leader Chea Vichea, who was shot dead at a newsstand in 2004.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* The crackdown waltz:

Unimpeded gatherings in the capital over the past two days, following the arrest of 11 activists on Tuesday, have brought the government’s seemingly selective enforcement of a ban on protests into sharp relief.

Yesterday, a day after people gathered in the capital for a remembrance ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the murder of union activist Chea Vichea, dozens of activists marched through Phnom Penh to deliver petitions to seven foreign embassies.

The protesters marched to the German, Swedish, South Korean, Australian, Russian, Thai and Malaysian embassies, where the petitions – calling for the release of 23 activists and workers imprisoned during a government crackdown early this month – were received.
read more.
PPP new

* More solidarity for Cambodian workers:

The violence against garment workers in Cambodia has met with outrage all over the world. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has requested an investigation into the events, and that the perpetrators be held accountable.

Unions in Thailand and Korea have showed solidarity and staged demonstrations outside the Cambodian embassies.

The violent end to the demonstrations in Cambodia in January this year resulted in four deaths, three missing people, 23 jailed and hundreds of dismissed workers. Trade union leaders have been warned that if they go on strike, their union registration will be suspended or cancelled. More than 100 court cases have been filed by employers against union leaders for inciting violence and damage of property, and six trade union leaders have pending arrest warrants.

IndustriALL Global Union and the ITUC quickly sent a mission to Phnom Penh to talk to the government and garment employers. Soon after, 30 global clothing brands joined IndustriALL, UNI and the ITUC in a strongly-worded letter to the government, demanding that workers’ rights be respected and negotiations on minimum wage re-launched.
read more.
Home

* Unions take big picture view:

20140124 PPP Gamrent-160-wage
A garment factory worker holds a placard during a protest to demand a higher minimum wage in Phnom Penh in December. POST STAFF

Union leaders yesterday said that despite having held strikes calling for a doubling of the minimum wage that were supported and encouraged by the country’s opposition party, they did not feel betrayed that the wage hike was taking a backseat in political negotiations.

Following a government announcement on December 24 that lifted the minimum wage from $80 to $95, a number of unions called a general strike asking for $160 that was immediately backed by the opposition, which quickly began urging workers to join their rallies.
read more.
PPP new

* Chanthol on reform, wages, politics:

In today’s instalment, we’re running a longer-than-usual talk. The Post’s deputy business editor Joe Freeman sat down this week for a wide-ranging interview with recently appointed Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol, who took the job in September after the ruling party reshuffled senior positions amid promises of reform.

Chanthol replaced longtime Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh, quickly making several changes that suggest he’s out to make his mark. Chanthol, who was educated in the US in the late 1970s, brings years of private sector experience to the ministry, having worked as an executive at General Electric before returning to Cambodia in the 1990s and helping set up the Council for the Development of Cambodia, or CDC.
He served as the Minister of Public Works and Transport from 2004 to 2008. Until taking up his current position, he was the senior minister at the CDC, where he still retains his vice-chairmanship. Can Chanthol change years of entrenched policies and use his influence to stamp out corruption, or will piecemeal reforms not add up to real change?
Here, he discusses his plans, and weighs in on unrest in the garment industry, the opposition’s National Assembly to protest the election results in July, and what drives Cambodia’s economy.
read more.
PPP new

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20140125 * Union leaders denied access to 23 protesters in prison:

The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prison didn’t allow union leaders to visit the 23 protesters who are currently in a prison in Kampong Cham province.

Vorn Pov, President of Independent and Democracy of Informal Economic Association (IDIEA) and other 22 protesters were arrested in two different protest crackdowns in Phnom Penh early this month.

“Detainee Vorn Pov is now under court investigation. Only family members and defense lawyer are allowed to visit him,” Koy Bunsorn, Director General of the prison, said Friday in a letter to Ath Thon, President of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’s Democratic Union (C.CAWDU).
read more.
CAMHERALD

20140125 * Interior Ministry Says No to Freedom Park Rally:

The government will consider a planned union rally on Sunday of several thousand people at Freedom Park in Phnom Penh an attempt to “overthrow the government,” Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said on Friday.

Nine unions plan to gather at the park on Sunday morning with some 10,000 supporters to call on the government to release 23 unionists and garment workers grabbed by soldiers and military police during demonstrations earlier this month, and to demand a monthly minimum wage in the garment industry of $160.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

20140126 * More violence at Freedom Park:

Security forces beat protesters with truncheons and stunned them with electric cattle prods as more violent clashes broke out in Phnom Penh this morning between authorities and protesters trying to gather in Freedom Park.

One of a number of clashes in and around Freedom Park was sparked by a protester kicking a helmeted security guard in the groin near Naga bridge, prompting authorities – which included municipal security guards and military police – to charge at a group of protesters and beat them with truncheons.
read more. & read more.
PPP new PPP new

* Two arrested, many injured as clash breaks out at Freedom Park:

Two men were arrested and many people from both sides were reportedly injured after the police clashed with protesters at the Freedom Park on Sunday morning, according to a reporter of The Cambodia Herald.

The clash broke out after the protesters led by nine labor union leaders gathered near the Freedom Park to demand wage increase to $160 per month for workers and release of 23 people arrested in bloody crackdowns earlier this month, the reporter said.
The Cambodia Herald reporter, who is at the scene, said a protester seriously wounded while many others from both side were lightly injured.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodian police again clash with anti-government protesters:

20140126 SCMP cambodia
Protesters clash with security guards as they attempt to break through to Freedom Park in central Phnom Penh. Photo: Reuters

Baton-wielding Cambodian police clashed today with protesters — including Buddhist monks — demanding higher wages for garment workers and the release of 23 people arrested during a recent bloody crackdown on a rally.

About two hundred textile workers, union members, land protesters and several monks attempting to rally at a Phnom Penh park were met by scores of riot police, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.
A brief clash broke out when some of the protesters tried to make it through police lines into Democracy Park, prompting security forces to use batons against them.
Protesters then responded by throwing rocks, water bottles and sticks.
At least 10 people from both sides were injured during the violence, according to activist Am Sam Ath of local rights group Licadho.
read more. & read more.
MALAYonLINE SouthchinaMORNINGPOST asia

* Cambodia blocks garment workers’ protest:

Demonstrations and labour activists demand release of workers arrested during previous protests

A heavy police presence in Cambodia appears to have halted a planned rally against the mistreatment of garment workers.

There were supposed to be demonstrations demanding the release of 23 people arrested during previous protests.
But the government is also under pressure to improve the situation of garment workers, with dozens of global brands and unions calling for a resolution to the situation.
read & see more. (video report).
aljazeera

* Video of clash between authority and people this morning in

See Video Report.
CLEC

* Military police officers summoned over deadly crackdowns:

The Phnom Penh Court summoned several military police officers to appear at the Court for questioning over the violent clashes earlier this month, said Phnom Penh Military Police Commander, Rath Srieng.

Srieng, however, declined to provide more details on specific date and name of the officers who would be questioned by the Court, turning the questions to the spokesman for the military police.
Kheng Tito, spokesman for the military police, could not be reached for comments.

The clashes on January 2-3 left five people dead and 40 injured. The military police also arrested 23 protesters in the heavy-handed crackdowns, which drew a lot of criticism from the international community.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Finding a Resolution to Cambodia’s Labor Disputes:

By William E. Todd, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia

Deciding on a proper minimum wage is often a contentious debate, in any country, and Cambodia has been no different.

The recent labor unrest in the country’s garment-manufacturing sector, which has resulted in large-scale strikes,demonstrations, and most recently violent clashes between protestors and security forces,attests to the difficulties of setting a wage upon which all sides can agree.  Many readers have expressed their concerns about the possibility of further unrest and violence, with one person asking, “What can be done to solve the problems between workers and business owners?”
read more.
CAMHERALD

brands PAY 2

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* Ministry Questions Unions Over Role in Kandal Garment Protest:

The Interior Ministry has summoned six union representatives for questioning following a complaint from Jack Liu, director-general of Tainan Enterprises (Cambodia) Co., Ltd., alleging that they incited violence at his Kandal province garment factory in late December.

A letter dated Thursday, signed by the Interior Ministry’s penal department chief In Bora, called Khem Nath, Chhim Nimul and Nget Moniroath from the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions (CATU) for questioning today. It also orders three other union members, Kol Kurn, Ouk Khen and Sem Kosal, to appear for questioning Wednesday.

“All of those people must present [themselves] following the warrant,” the letter reads.
“We summoned these people for questioning because the company representative [Mr. Liu] accused [them] of inciting violence among workers and [leading them] to destroy the factory’s property, but we have no plans to arrest anyone,” Mr. Bora said Sunday.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Clashes as rally ban enforced:

Violence again erupted in Phnom Penh yesterday, as security forces blocked demonstrators from Freedom Park, where they intended to protest against low wages and the continued detention of 23 people.

Nearly 10 people suffered minor injuries, while police arrested two people, Mathieu Pellerin, a consultant for rights group Licadho, said.
Deputy Phnom Penh municipal police chief Choun Narin identified the men arrested as Pheng Pha, 32, and Ham Huth, 18.

The demonstration was the first attempted at Freedom Park since January 4, when district security guards tore down tents and chased off protesters who had occupied the area for 20 days, demanding Cambodia hold a new national election and raise the minimum monthly garment wage to $160.
(…)

Nine unions and associations, among them the Independent Democratic Association of Informal Economic (IDEA), Free Trade Union (FTU) and Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association (CITA), planned the demonstration last week, only for City Hall and the Ministry of Interior to refuse them permission to hold it.
A formal request the trade groups filed with City Hall noted their demands of a $160 minimum wage and the immediate release of 23 people – among them IDEA chief Vorn Pov – arrested during demonstrations on January 2 and 3.
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* After Clash, Crowd Turns on Suspected Provocateurs:

Protesters demanding the release of 23 imprisoned activists and workers clashed with security guards at a demonstration in central Phnom Penh on Sunday, with the crowd then beating at least three plain-clothes men they suspected of having been planted among them to stir up trouble.

Two of the men—one with a bloody wound to the head—were afterward driven off by some of the protesters and handed over to police in Chamkar Mon district’s Boeng Keng Kang I commune, who sent them on to municipal police headquarters.
The protest was called by a group of nine trade unions hoping to gather a crowd of 10,000 at the city’s Freedom Park to demand both higher garment sector wages and the release of 23 men arrested earlier this month during two days of protests outside Phnom Penh factories.
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* Officers queried on shootings:

Military police officers involved in the clash on Veng Sreng Boulevard that led to the deaths of at least four protesters earlier this month have been questioned in connection with the shootings, though none will face charges, a military police spokesman said yesterday.

The five officers, whose names and positions are unknown, were questioned about their role in the violence at Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week, Brigadier General Kheng Tito said.

“They were already questioned by the prosecutor last week,” he told the Post. “They were summonsed by the prosecutor to give their explanations about the violent clash that happened between the violent protesters and our military police forces.”
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* UN asked to ‘address crisis’:

Amnesty International and rights group Licadho in a joint statement yesterday called on UN member states to “address the country’s human rights crisis” at a UN Human Rights Council hearing in Geneva on Tuesday.

The statement, which was sent to foreign embassies, the Cambodian government and country missions in Geneva, said that since the groups made a series of recommendations in mid-2013, the human rights situation has deteriorated significantly.
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