Cambodian Garment Workers: $160 We Need! Part 2 20140207-201407

04:24:59 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

$160 We Need

Garment workers demanding $160 minimum wage

$160

30140207

04:24:59 local time map of cambodia CAMBODIA

20140207 ALLindustry cambodian_women

* Free the 23 and give workers a living minimum wage of USD$160 a month:

On the 24th of December 2013 an estimated 50,000 to 200,000 garment workers went on strike in Cambodia. Their main demand was a living minimum wage of $US160 per month. They were joined by a number of other unions and workers also demanding the same minimum wage.

Demonstrators have faced continuous heavy government repression for demanding this wage. This has included attacks by police, military police, plain clothes thugs, and private security who between them have used an assortment of weapons including tear gas, grenades, axe handles, sling shots, electric batons, AK-47 rifles, and metal poles.
By January 4th, 4 workers had been killed, 39 seriously injured, and 23 indefinitely detained in the remote and harsh CC3 prison. Of those arrested 20 of them were garment workers, and 3 were prominent human rights defenders – Theng Savoeun, Vorn Pao, and Chan Puthisak. Another 2 workers have since died from injuries sustained at these demonstrations.

After these crackdowns the government issued a decree essentially prohibiting any public demonstrations or protest. Some workers have lost their jobs for striking or been denied pay, unionists are being denied access to factories, and companies are suing unions for their loss of income and damage to the factories.

At this point is it extremely difficult for Cambodians to speak out. However hope still remains and many workers, unionists, Buddhist monks and human rights activists are working hard to release those wrongfully imprisoned and to continue to push for a living minimum wage. Despite the prohibition on protest, many people are still risking detainment and abuse from authorities to still protest for these demands.

It is of crucial importance that international community puts pressure on Cambodia from outside and give solidarity to those risking their lives to continue to organise and protest. We must be rallying both on and off line.
This movement has been one of the strongest in Cambodia in recent times, which is why the government has been so unapologetically repressive.

This is an important time to help contest the 30 year rule of Hun Sen, demand dignity and a living wage for all workers, and the right to organise to achieve this, including freedom from arbitrary and punitive detainment.
This petition is a small but meaningful step for Cambodian people. Please sign it and pass it along to friends, family, co-workers, and concerned organisations.
SIGN THE PETITION HERE & read more.
CLEC

* Release the 23 Gathering:

Around a hundred of people from civil socities, unions, communities and monks gathered this morning at Preh Ang Dong Ka in front of Royal Palce to pray for the 23 detainees to be released at the bail hearing on 11th, Feburary next week.
read & see more.
CLEC

Another round of religious prayers to release the 23 detainees:

20140207 LICADHO

This morning about 100 civil society members and monks gathered at Preah Ong Dongkau on Riverside to call for the release of 23 detained workers and rights workers in anticipation of their bail hearing, set for Tuesday, February 11.

23 monks prayed for the release of the 23 men, who were arrested during the garment protests in early January, as the group released birds and balloons into the air. This gathering comes ahead of a planned Global Day of Action which will see global unions including IndistrALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the ITUC mobilising workers around the world to protest at Cambodian embassies on February 10, the day before the bail hearing, to demand the release of the 23.
to read.
licadho

* Two among the 23 to be freed prior to bail hearing:

This morning, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court granted bail to two garment factory workers: Bou Sarith, 27 years old, and Yon Sok Chea, 17 years old. The two belong to the group of 23 workers and rights defenders arrested in early January during the garment worker strike.

Their families and lawyers are currently on their way to CC3 prison and Kampong Cham provincial prison.
All 23 men were refused bail at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on January 21. The bail hearing at the Phnom Penh Appeal Court for the remaining 21 workers and human rights defenders is still set for February 11.
to read.
licadho

* Cambodian court releases 2 of 23 detained protesters:

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday ordered the release of two men out of the 23 protesters who were arrested last month during violent clashes.

Leang Sam Nath, Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s Presiding Judge, ordered the release of the two men in separately written orders to the chief of Trapaing Thlong Correctional Center, where they are all detained.
Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator for the rights group Licadho, said the release was a positive sign for the remaining detainees.

“We hope that the court will continue freeing the others,” he said.
The Court of Appeals will hear bail requests for the remaining imprisoned protesters on Tuesday.
read more.
CHINAORG

* Labor union leaders discuss protest plan:

Nine labor union leaders who rejected the minimum wage of USD100 per month, announced in January by the government, met today to discuss the minimum wage for garment and footwear workers and their protest plan.

Rong Chhun, President of Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said the meeting at Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) is to decide if the nine labor unions have to hold the second protest to demand better wage for workers.

The workers protested throughout the country to demand the minimum wage of USD160 per month, increasing from USD80 per month until bloody crackdowns in January, leaving at least five people dead, and some 40 injured.
Police also arrested 23 people, who are now being detained in prison in Kampong Cham province.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Union leaders delay protest:

Labor union leaders who rejected USD 100 per month for workers decided to delay their protest plan, awaiting the government’s announcement over the wage increase for workers, and the court decision on 23 individuals arrested last month.

The suspension of the protest was made after the meeting attended by 11 labor union leaders at Community Legal Education Center (CLEC).

Ath Thon, president of the Coalition of Cambodia Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said the meeting discussed the workers’ salary cut by factory employers during their protests.

He said the agreements in the meeting included:
1 — Asking government to release the 23 people arrested in recent crackdowns.
2 — Calling on the government and employers to resume wage talk over the demand of USD160 per month.
3 – Asking the government and factories to bring to justice the gunmen of victims killed, and injured during the violent clashes on Jan. 2-3.
4 – Asking the government and factories to drop complaints against the leaders of the labor unions, and lift its ban on public rallies in the capital and other places.
5 — Reinstating the workers, who have been fired.

The Garment and footwear workers will receive USD100 per month starting from this February, according to a decision made in January.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Poverty Wages Unraveling Cambodia’s Garment Industry:

Cambodia’s garment industry is regularly plagued with strikes and protests. But when armed security forces opened fire on striking workers in the capital city of Phnom Penh on Jan. 3, killing five and injuring dozens, it suddenly became clear that this was not just another protest.

With the situation left unresolved since, advocacy groups are urging clothing brands to review their purchasing practices and take action to ultimately end low wages, which are at the root of the bloody demonstrations in Cambodia.

“Workers are getting very angry,” Anannya Bhattacharjee of the New Delhi-based Asia Floor Wage Alliance, told IPS. “There is a lot of explosiveness. They do not want to tolerate the current situation of continuing poverty anymore.”

Statutory minimum wages determined by national governments and industries usually fall short of workers’ demands. In the case of Cambodia, the government first offered to raise monthly pay from 80 to 95 dollars, then to 100. Striking workers, however, insisted that the minimum level should be 160 dollars.

Asia Floor Wage, which has been campaigning for higher minimum wages across garment-producing countries in Asia, believes that if statutory minimum wages are not high enough, multinational companies need to be involved.
read more.
IPS

gov STOP 2

* Threat of ‘mass strike’ looms:

20140207 PPP Garment-Demonstration
Garment workers gather behind barbed wire on Phnom Penh’s Russian Boulevard during a demonstration in December. Photo by Vireak Mai.

Workers from more than 200 garment factories are to take part in industrial action on Monday, but unions yesterday hesitated to call it a mass strike, saying they plan one of those for later next week if their demands aren’t met.

The chances of another mass strike occurring increased last night when a government committee announced after a four-hour meeting that it would not be raising the minimum wage, despite unions demanding at least $160 per month.

“In the meeting today, we did not talk about the amount … but only the technical side – how we can support the LAC [Labour Advisory Committee] determine whether it can accept [the unions’ demands] or not,” Ministry of Labour spokesman Heng Sour said.

Representatives of nine union confederations met earlier at the Community Legal Education Center after some had told the media that another large-scale demonstration was imminent.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said after the meeting that unions had agreed to stand firm on their demands, which included, among other things, a wage increase and the release of 23 unionists and workers imprisoned since violent crackdowns last month.

“Our members from about 200 factories over the country will gather at their factories to demand the government release the 23 workers and six other points on Monday, one day before their Appeal Court bail request,” Sina said. “If the court does not allow the 23 workers to go free, we will announce a second mass strike.”
read more.
PPP new

*  Unions to March After Failure to Address Minimum Wage:

Six garment worker unions and two general labor unions said Thursday that they will march on Monday along Phnom Penh’s Sisowath Quay and to various foreign embassies to protest the government’s inaction to address their calls for a higher minimum wage.

The call to action was issued after a high-level government committee failed Thursday to address the minimum wage issue, saying there was no plan for any raise at this time.
“We have decided on Monday to gather more than 300 people from different unions and NGOs to…march to the shrine near the riverside,” said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

Afterward, the unions will deliver a seven-point petition seeking support from foreign embassies including the U.S., China, France and Britain, Mr. Sina said.
“We will not protest on that day. We just plan to submit petitions with embassies to ask for their help in achieving our demands,” he said.

The petition calls for a $160 minimum wage for garment workers, the release of 23 protesters imprisoned last month during strikes for a higher minimum wage, the prosecution of state forces who killed five protesters on January 3, an end to the government’s ban on demonstrations, an end to legal action against union leaders who organized a nationwide strike in December, and the payment of salaries for workers who took part in that strike.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Garment workers to receive USD 100 per month from February:

The Government already issued a Decision to require the employers to increase the minimum wage for the factory workers to USD 100 per month, starting from February 2014, said a government official.

Vong Savann, a senior official of the Labor Ministry added that the Decision was already issued by the Ministry and was acceptable by representatives of employees and employers.
However, a number of Union Workers have rejected the offer.

Before the increase, the workers received only USD80 per month.
Sovann said the recently established Committee led by Keat Chhon, a Deputy Prime Minister, is further studying the possibility of wage increase. However, it has not yet been clear when another phase of pay hike will take place.
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160 We Need

$160

30140208-09

* Two of 23 Jailed Protesters Granted Bail; Release Date Unknown:

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday morning granted bail to two of the 23 union activists and protesters jailed following the lethal suppression of garment worker strikes by military police on January 3.

Municipal court presiding Judge Leang Samnatt held an unscheduled hearing on Friday morning and decided to grant bail to two of the jailed protesters: garment workers Bou Sarith, 27, and Yon Chea, 17, who are being held at seperate jails in Kompong Cham province. 

Judge Samnatt ordered the directors of both prisons to “release the accused…if they are not under detention orders for committing other offenses,” according to a copy of the court’s release warrant, which was signed by the judge.

The bail order did not specify when the two should be released, but Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for rights group Licadho, said he was told that the document granting bail had been sent to the General Department of Prisons.
read more.  & read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo CAMHERALD

* Free the 23!:

Clean Clothes Campaign are joining with others around the world in a day of action calling on the Cambodian Government to immediately release the 23 men detained during wage protests at the start of 2014.

A minimum wage should be a wage you can live on.
In December 2013 garment workers in Cambodia went on strike to demand an increase in the monthly minimum wage to USD160 per month, after the national wage board ignored the advice of it’s own committee and only proposed a wage increase to USD 95 – falling far short of a living wage.

On January 2 and 3, 2014 the tensions escalated and police and military used violence against the demonstrators and those caught up in the protests.  At least four people were killed and 39 injured and 23 were detained.

Global day of action
On Monday February 10th around the world activists will be taking their messages to Cambodian Ambassadors around the world.  If you cannot join one of the planned demonstrations but would like to show your support for the detained workers you can send a picture of yourself with a sign saying “Free the 23” and post to our Facebook site.
read & see more.
Site

20140207 CCC-LICADHO
Monks in Cambodia call for the release of the 23. (photo: Licadho)

* The 23 men detained in Correctional Centre 3 and Kampong Cham Prison, Kampong Cham Province:

Arrested on January 2 and January 3, 2014
In December 2013 garment workers in Cambodia went on strike to demand an increase in the monthly minimum wage to $160 per month.

The strike continued every day into the new year, with increasing numbers of workers joining the protests.
On January 2, 2014, tensions escalated as striking garment workers from factories close to South Korean/U.S.-owned Yakjin factory in Phnom Penh gathered to urge other workers to join the strike.
Special Command Unit 911 was quickly mobilized to suppress the garment factory worker demonstration, brandishing knives, metal pipes, slingshots, batons and AK-47 rifles to intimidate and injure strikers.

Ten people were arrested on January 2, including Vorn Pao, President of IDEA (Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association), Theng Savoeun, Coordinator of CCFC (Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community), Chan Puthisak, community leader from Boeung Kak Lake, and Sokun Sombath Piseth, staff member at CLaRi-Cambodia (Center for Labor Rights of Cambodia). On January 3, all ten appeared before Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged under Criminal Code Articles 218 and 411 (intentional violence with aggravating circumstances and intentional damage with aggravating circumstances).

That same day, January 3, 2014, mixed security forces (hereafter referred to as ‘security forces’) used live ammunition to clear striking workers in front of Canadia Industrial Park on Veng Sreng Road, resulting in at least four civilian deaths and 38 injuries requiring hospitalization, including 25 who suffered bullet wounds.

Thirteen more men were arrested during the clashes and charged on 4 January under Criminal Code Articles 218 and 411. Three men were additionally charged with Criminal Code Article 502 and Traffic Law Article 78 (Insult addressed to a public official acting in their official capacity and blocking public traffic).
read more.
licadho Site

* National, International unions to hold joint campaign for release of 23 protesters:

National and International labor unionists planned to meet in Phnom Penh and abroad to hold joint campaign for the release of 23 protesters who are currently in jail.

Ath Thon, President of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said the unionists would meet at 200 factories throughout the country on February 10, and at Preah Angdong Kouer shrine before they would summit petitions to the Embassies of China, European Union and Unites States.

The petition of the labor union leaders included seven points of demands including release of the 23 detained protesters, the demand of $160 per month, and other demands.

“The activities of the national unionists tomorrow [Monday] would be held to coincide with ones of the unions abroad,” he said.

The international unions appealed to their members in the world to protest in front of the Cambodian embassies abroad on February 10 to seek the release of the detained protesters.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* When Freedom Meets Oppression: Timeline of Recent Events:

20140209 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.

LICADHO has compiled a timeline summarizing the series of event leading to and following the January 2-3-4, 2014, lethal clampdown on labour and political demonstrations in Cambodia’s capital. A Khmer version is available here.

December 15, 2013
The Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the main opposition party, begins their third post-election mass protest by staging a permanent occupation of Freedom Park, intended to last for three months.

December 22, 2013
After one week of evening rallies in the streets of Phnom Penh, CNRP hosts the largest march in Cambodia since 1998 to protest the current political situation.

December 24, 2013
The Labour Advisory Council announces its decision to raise the living wage from $80 to only $95 by April 2014. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MOL) also outlines a plan to increase the minimum wage to $160 by 2018.
read more.
licadho

$160

30140210

Day before appeal: Groups take to the streets:

Today, groups, communities, and monks are releasing balloons in 57 places in Phnom Penh and the provinces in support of 23 rights defenders and workers arrested last month.

After two were released on bail on February 8, the remaining 21 are set to appear at a bail hearing tomorrow at the Appeals Court. These actions are happening in conjunction with today’s global day of action for the arrested rights defenders and workers, which will see international unions IndustriALL, Global Union and ITUC mobilizing workers around the world to protest at Cambodian embassies in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Canberra, Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, Hong Kong, Manila, Jakarta, London, and Seoul.

This morning, 100 land activists delivered a petition calling for their release to the Ministry of Justice. Several NGO representatives attempted to deliver a joint civil society petition with 197 signatures to the Vietnamese embassy but their petition was not accepted. At 10am, the Pochentong airport area community will release balloons at their community center.
read more.
licadho

* Bailed Garment Workers Speak of Injustice Ahead of March:

In the weeks that 17-year-old garment worker Yon Chea languished in prison, he spent hours staring out of the window at a concrete wall, certain that he would never see his home or his family again.

“I never thought I would get out. There was a window that looked out onto a wall, I would sit all day and stare at that window,” he said Sunday, as he sat on the floor of the tiny apartment on Veng Sreng Street in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district that he shares with his parents and two of his siblings.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Friday morning granted bail to Mr. Chea and one other detainee, 27-year-old Bou Sarith, both of whom were among the 23 union activists and protesters jailed following the deadly suppression of garment worker strikes on January 2 and 3. They were released on Saturday.

Many of the 21 who are still being held in prison went on hunger strike Sunday morning.
“Sixteen prisoners out of 21 have been hunger striking since this morning because they want to send a message to the Ministry of Justice to find justice for them,” Kea Sovanna, the director of Correctional Center 3 (CC3), where the remaining 21 prisoners are being held, said Sunday.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Supporters of 21 to march to embassies:

Activists may find themselves in a showdown with police this morning during a planned vigil on Phnom Penh’s riverside and a march to several embassies.

National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said yesterday that people supporting the release of 21 people detained during a garment strike in early January do not have the right to march to embassies to deliver petitions.

“[Police] may be force[d] to stop them,” Tito said in a text message. Representatives from NGOs, unions and other groups are free to deliver the petitions, he added, but they may not march.

After a 9am press conference at the Imperial Garden Villa and Hotel, more than 350 unionists, families of those detained and other activists are expected to march to Preah Ang Dongker, across from the Royal Palace, for a prayer service and to release balloons in support of the 21 detainees, a day ahead of their bail hearing, said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.
read more.
PPP new

* Court under pressure to free 23 protesters in jail:

Some 50 anti-eviction activists from property development sites Boeung Kok, Borei Keila and Thmor Kol rallied on Monday to submit a petition to Ministry of Justice, asking for the release of detained protesters.

The activists, holding banners, shouted demand in front of the Ministry of Justice. There was no disturbance or crackdown by the authority despite protest ban imposed after the bloody crackdowns in January.
Boeung Kok representative Tep Vanny, prominent anti-eviction activist, handed the petition to the Ministry of Justice and Appeal Court of Appeal.
The Appeal Court will have a hearing on the case of the 23 protesters, two of whom were released on bail last week, tomorrow.

Labour unionists and human rights activists also rallies this morning at Preah Angdong Koeur shrine before they presented the petitions to the foreign embassies in Phnom Penh.
The unionists also maintained their stance to demand USD160 per month for garment and footwear factory workers.
to read.
CAMHERALD

—–update  23.58h loc.time—-

* On Global Day of Action, Cambodians Release Balloons to Sky in Solidarity with 23 Arrestees:

20140210 LICADHO hooray-for-balloons

Cambodians nationwide and people across the globe demonstrated unity today with the 23 workers and rights defenders arrested in last month’s violent clampdown on striking garment workers, where at least four died and 38 were hospitalized, 25 of which suffered from bullet wounds.

In Cambodia, unions, associations, and communities organized at least 400 balloon send-offs across the country from offices, universities, pagodas, and factories, such as the ones on Veng Sreng road, the site of the lethal clampdown in early January. Around noon, all groups simultaneously released balloons in Phnom Penh, Kampong Som, Battambang, Siem Reap, Poipet, and Banteay Meanchey to call for the freedom of the 23 arrested.
read more.
licadho

* Global day of action to #FreeThe23 garment workers:

(Photo’s of international actions. More Cambodia actions on Freethe23 Facebook: here. )

20140210 I-ALL BDGarment workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh march in solidarity for 23 detained Cambodian garment workers

20140210 I-ALL IndonesiaOver 300 union members demonstrated outside the Cambodian embassy in Jakarta.

20140210 I-ALL JapanMembers of JTUC, IndustriALL & UNI in Japan handed a letter to the Cambodian ambassador in Tokyo. & see video.

20140210 I-ALL KOREA Demonstrators in Seoul today rally outside the Cambodian embassy demanding that 23 garment workers be released.

Photo’s  provided by

One of the first actions on the global day of solidarity with Cambodian garment workers took place Monday afternoon in Canberra. Organised by members of Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, and with great support from UnionsACT and the NTEU ACT Division, representatives of the CFMEU, CPSU, AEU, APHEDA, ASU, and Vintage Reds (retired unionists) showed their solidarity outside the Cambodian Embassy.
NTEUACTdivision

20140210 ILRF
Protest at
embassy in DC demands: now – for garment workers! photo provided by ilrf

20140210 GLOunion
In Switzerland & deliver forceful message to embassy now .
photo provided by .
UNIglobalUNION

* PH workers press for release of 23 Cambodian workers:

Joining international labor groups’ call for a Global Day of Action, workers led by national labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno picketed the Cambodian Embassy in Makati City this morning to call for the immediate and unconditional release of 23 workers currently imprisoned by the Cambodian government.

KMU said the imprisonment of the 23 workers, which stems from a national strike staged by Cambodian workers from December to January to call for increasing the minimum wage from $75 to P160, is most unjust and goes hand-in-hand with the killing of at least four workers by the Cambodian military in a crackdown last January.

“We Filipino workers stand by our Cambodian brothers and sisters who are fighting for their rights. The 23 workers, like all Cambodian workers who joined the national strike, were merely fighting for a living wage and should not be imprisoned,” said Nenita Gonzaga, KMU vice-chair for women’s affairs.
read more.
KILUSANG MAYO UNO

* Cambodian opposition-aligned union activists pray for release of 21 detained protesters:

Some 100 activists from 16 opposition-aligned trade unions gathered at a shrine near the Royal Palace on Monday to pray for the release of 21 protesters who were detained following violent clashes last month.

The prayer was held just a day ahead of their bail hearing.
“We prayer for the release of the detainees since they are innocent,” Rong Chhun, president of Cambodian Confederation of Unions, told reporters at the event.

Ath Thun, president of Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said after the prayers that the activists would submit a petition to foreign embassies to Cambodia including the United States, the European Union and China in order to seek their help in securing the release of the detainees.
The petition also called for a 160-U.S.-dollar- minimum wage for garment workers and an end to the government’s temporary ban on demonstrations, he said.
read more.
CHINAORG

* Cambodia: Free Activists; Revoke Assembly Ban:

Cambodian authorities should release 21 activists and workers held since early January 2014, 12 international human rights and labor rights organizations said today in an open letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The 21 are among 23 people detained during and after a crackdown on strikes and social unrest in Phnom Penh, the capital. The government should also lift its total ban on public gatherings.

The organizations joined the global unions International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), UNI Global Union, IndustriALL, and others around the world in a global day of action to urge the Cambodian government to end its repression of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, and association.
read more.
HRW

20140207 ALLindustry cambodian_women

$160

30140211

* Bail denied for 21 detainees:

Defence attorneys will now turn to the Supreme Court after a Court of Appeals judge denied bail this morning for all 21 people still detained from clashes with authorities during garment strike demonstrations last month.

The presiding judge said he decided not to allow bail based on speculation that the detainees’ release would “disturb public order”, Sam Sokung, a defence attorney representing six of the defendants, said outside the courtroom minutes after the decision.

“We are shocked,” said Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center, which also provided legal representation for some of the defendants. “There was not enough grounds to keep them in prison.”

Weeping in front of the courtroom after the decision was announced, were the wife, two sons and daughter of Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), who was arrested at a demonstration in front of the Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc. garment factory on January 2.

Guards at the court shut the gates to keep out about 200 people gathered outside from coming in, after land rights activist Yorm Bopha rushed into the courtroom complex after hearing the decision, falling to the ground and wailing next to Pov’s family.

Minutes before the decision came, rumours buzzed through the crowd of union activists, NGO workers and other supporters on site that a large majority of the detained men would be released today. Based on their attorneys’ take on the situation, Tola also believed this until the ruling.

“I hoped this morning that at least 18 people would be released today,” Tola said. “If the court is really independent, they should be released.”
Across the street from the courthouse, Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union – the largest union behind the strike, which was suspended after deadly clashes on Veng Sreng Boulevard January 3 – said he was equally surprised.

Tomorrow, eight union groups will meet to discuss how to go about reigniting the strike, Thorn said.
“It’s not only about these 21 [detainees],” he said. “Wage negotiations are also important.”
to read.
PPP new

* Appeal Court denies freedom for rights defenders and workers:

This morning, 21 rights defenders and workers arrested early in January were refused bail by the Phnom Penh Appeal Court.

The men, who were not present for the closed hearing, belong to the group of 23 arrested in early January amid a lethal clampdown of garment worker strikes and have been detained in CC3 since then. About 200 of their supporters, including their families, remain outside the court building where they have been peacefully gathered since early morning.
On Saturday, two of the group were released on bail prior to today’s hearing.
to read.
licadho

* Court of Appeal holds bail hearing for 21 detained protesters:

The Court of Appeals on Tuesday held bail hearing for 21 remaining detainees after two jailed protesters were granted bail last week.

Motorcycle taxi drivers, monks and anti-eviction activists were seen rallying outside the court.
Labor unionists were also seen commenting outside the court to demand their colleagues’ release, and threaten to hold nationwide strike if the protesters will not be freed today.
“Tomorrow I will set date for nationwide strike if the 21 people are not released today,” said Rong Chhun, prominent leader of Cambodian Confederation of Unions.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Unions Threaten Nationwide Strike if 21 Prisoners Not Released:

Sixteen unions threatened Monday to organize a nationwide strike if the 21 activists and protesters jailed following garment industry protests on January 2 and 3 are not released on bail Tuesday.

The unions also called for charges against the 21 prisoners, 16 of whom began a hunger strike in prison on Sunday, and two other prisoners released on bail Saturday, to be dropped.

“Local unions and national-level unions have agreed that if there is no release [of the 21] and no increase in pay for workers in the coming days we will hold a nationwide strike,” said Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association.
“If they do not clear the 23 [of charges] and increase workers’ pay to $160, we will…set an agenda and inform relevant authorities about our nationwide strike,” he said.

Following the meeting, more than 100 union representatives and supporters, led by a group of about 20 monks, marched along Phnom Penh’s Sisowath Quay at about midday to the Preah Ang Dongkor shrine in front of the Royal Palace where they released balloons on behalf of the 23 who were jailed.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Demos for 21 allowed:

20140211 PPP 21-Union-March
Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun (centre) and other union affiliates led a march along Sisowath Quay and on towards the Royal Palace yesterday. Photo by  Heng Chivoan.

Demonstrations yesterday supporting the release of detainees arrested during protests last month proved much more peaceful than those at which the 21 were arrested.

Marches to a public shrine on Phnom Penh’s riverside, the Ministry of Justice and the Court of Appeal saw no police intervention, as protesters delivered petitions and released balloons and birds in an appeal to release the 21 people still detained following violent clashes with authorities at demonstrations supporting a garment worker strike in early January.

“Release, release, release them without condition! We need freedom!” shouted Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Garment Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), as about 120 supporters paused in front of the Court of Appeal on their march from the Imperial Garden Villa and Hotel to Preah Ang Dongker. “Tomorrow is the bail hearing for the 21 people [still detained]; we believe the Appeal Court must release them for the sake of freedom!”
read & see more. (video report).
PPP new

* Unions Trying To Regain Momentum…:

Both at several locations in Cambodia and in front of cambodian embassies abroad, a series of events were organised simultaneously to request the release of 21 workers (2 others were granted bail a few days before), activists and union leaders who were arrested during the early January crackdown by the army which resulted in the killing of at least 5 people.

In Phnom Penh alone, students in front of the university released balloons carrying the request to free the 23 people, workers did the same at Veng Sreng road near where the workers were killed, The Boeung Kak lake and the Borei Keila community did their thing in front of the Ministry of Justice and the Appeals Court. And union leaders convened at the Imperial Hotel to agree on a petition requesting the release of all 23 prisoners, a discussion on a basic wage of $US160/ month, a charge against those who used violence at Yakjing factory and on Veng Sreng road, a cancellation of the ban of public gatherings, a cancellation of the complaints filed by the companies against union workers, the reinstallment of all those workers who were fired and the payment of their salaries.
read & see more (photo report).
JohnVink

* Unions, opposition ‘hindering wage talks’:

Labour Minister Ith Sam Heng and ministry spokesman Heng Sour yesterday accused unions and the opposition of derailing the government’s efforts at minimum wage reform by striking and stirring up violence for their own political gain.

“The government has set up a committee to study the minimum garment wage as a way of continually working to increase it, but the opposition party and some unions are using the result of our findings to demonstrate for their own political benefit and encourage violence,” Sam Heng said at the launch of the ministry’s 2013 annual report.

As the threat of another mass garment worker strike looms – and calls for the release of 21 union activists and workers arrested last month grow louder – Sour said protests of all stripes were a “waste of time”.
“They should stop all protests, because it is of no benefit. Rather, they should negotiate at the table,” he said.
read more.
PPP new

* Ministry of Labor Highlights Triumphs in 2013 Annual Report:

The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training released its 2013 annual report Monday, trumpeting a list of nine achievements it had reached in line with its five-year plan for the fourth government mandate, which ended last year.

Speaking to a crowd of about 100 officials at the ministry’s Toul Kok district headquarters in Phnom Penh, Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng delivered the annual report, which states in its summary that in 2013 “Peace, political stability, social order and security, and the respect for rights and freedom and human dignity in all aspects…were consolidated on the basis of multi-party liberal democracy.”

Leading the ministry’s list of nine achievements for 2013 was the completion of a study to determine the minimum living wage for workers in the garment and footwear production sector, which it pegged at between $157 and $177 per month.

While garment factory strikes in December and January, and the ensuing deaths of five protesters, were directly related to labor conditions and demands for a $160 per month minimum wage, Minister Sam Heng distanced his ministry from any responsibility for the bloodshed.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* US brands need to step up for human rights in Cambodia:

The worsening  human rights situation in Cambodia ought to be deeply troubling to Americans. For starters, much of the unrest stems from poverty-level wages paid by textiles factories that make America’s favorite brands of clothing.

Tens of thousands of garment workers went on strike in December, demanding a raise from their current salary of $80 a month. To shut down the protests, the autocratic government of Prime Minister Hun Sen sent security forces that fired into the crowd, killing at least four and wounding about 40.

Thirty well-known apparel brands — including American Eagle Outfitters, the Gap, and Adidas — signed a joint letter to Hun Sen asking for a full investigation of the violence and urged him to take steps to prevent the use of excessive force in the future. The letter was commendable. But these companies must do more for their sentiments to be seen as sincere. If American companies believe Cambodians deserve a living wage, they ought to be willing to pay a little more to manufacture their clothing, just as American consumers ought to be willing to pay more for a pair of jeans.

Cambodia’s troubles run deeper than the garment strikes. For years, a population that endured horrific suffering in the 1970s under the Khmer Rouge seemed content with any government that was not genocidal. But recently, a new generation of Cambodians has stepped up to protest widespread corruption and land-grabbing by Hun Sen, who has been in power for nearly three decades — longer than any other leader in Asia.
read more.
BOSTONGLOBE

_________update  18.30h loc.time__________

* Today’s Bail Denial For 21 Human Rights Defenders And Protesters Illustrates The Deteriorating Human Rights Situation In Cambodia:

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights (“CCHR”) condemns today’s decision by the Court of Appeal to deny bail to 21 of a group of 23 human rights defenders, activists and protestors arrested during demonstrations in early January in the Kingdom of Cambodia (“Cambodia”).

The two other men were granted bail during a hearing on the morning of 7 February and released under judicial supervision the next day.
read more.
CCHR

* ADHOC Condemns Court’s Decision Not to Release Detained Human Rights Defenders, Activists and Workers:

The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) condemns the Court’s decision today to continue to detain 21 demonstrators arrested during peaceful demonstrations in early January, 2014. ADHOC provided lawyers to 15 of the 23 people arrested at Yakjin Factory on 02 January 2014 and at the Canadia Industrial Zone on 03 January 2014.

ADHOC urges the Courts to drop all charges against the 23 demonstrators, and to compensate them for the time they have been illegally detained. Citizens of Cambodia have a constitutionally protected right to demonstrate, a right which has been denied through the use of deadly force to crackdown on demonstrators and the ongoing ban on assemblies.
Four people have been killed; one young man is missing and scores more have been injured since the start of January. As yet nobody has been held to account for the violence, highlighting the culture of impunity which plagues Cambodia.
The use of live ammunition on demonstrators is in breach of international standards of proportionality and has been widely condemned by rights groups and observers.
read more.
ADHOC

* Fate of teen still a mystery:

The fate of Khim Saphath, the 16-year-old boy missing since clashes between striking garment workers and security forces erupted on Veng Sreng Boulevard on January 3, continues to differentiate fatality lists compiled by rights groups.

He was last seen lying on the ground with a bloody chest wound, according to eyewitnesses, before vanishing without a trace.
After investigation, Adhoc has officially concluded that the boy – who lied about his age to work in a Chinese-owned garment factory – was killed, senior investigator Chan Soveth said on Thursday, with the organisation’s death toll thus standing at five.
“We have evidence and witnesses who saw the son shot to the ground on the spot that day,” he said.
But Licadho – which counts four dead – still treats Saphath as missing and is yet to conclude its investigation, technical supervisor Am Sam Ath said.
“We still do not have clear sources, so we have kept him on the missing list.”
(…)
But Saphath’s father, Khim Souern, said he has not approached police because he does not trust them to carry out a proper investigation.
He added that small bribes were needed for local authorities to sign a letter allowing him to claim $180 of his son’s remaining salary from the Hua Hsi garment factory.

Meanwhile, many of the more than 40 protesters and bystanders injured during the January 3 clashes are yet to fully recover from their wounds.
Factory worker Prom Phearum, 22, who was shot in the leg, said doctors have told him that he might need an amputation, as blood is stuck between fractured bone.
read more.
PPP new

* Dismay over bail rejection:

21 jailed activists remain behind bars

Video Report here. by  PPP new

* News flash: 21 Cambodians refused bail:

Clean Clothes Campaign expresses bitter disappointment and continues the fight for their immediate release.

Clean Clothes Campaign has reacted with dismay at the refusal to release on bail 21 of the 23 Cambodian men who were detained during January’s wage struggles.

The bail hearings were held in a closed session this morning, February 11th, with none of the 21 men in attendance.  All 21 men remain in the CC3 jail, located in the Kampong Cham province north of the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, which is notorious for its harsh conditions.. Two of the original 23 detainees, were released on bail last Saturday.

Clean Clothes Campaign is extremely disappointed at this decision. “We will continue to fight for their immediate release alongside our partners in Cambodia and around the world.  We call on the Cambodian Government to immediately release the 21 men and drop all charges against all 23, and resume good faith wage negotiations.”  said Emma Harbour of Clean Clothes Campaign. “A wage you can live on, which was at the heart of the protests, is a right everyone deserves and Clean Clothes Campaign will continue to support all garment workers in their struggles for a living wage.”

Campaigners across the world showed solidarity with the 21 detained men on Monday 10th January with actions outside Cambodian Embassies in Seoul, Brussels, Geneva, Washington D.C., Hong Kong, Berlin and Dhaka, amongst other actions on a global day of solidarity with Cambodian workers.
to read.
Site

* BetterFactories Media updates 1-11 February 2014, Unions threaten nationwide strike if 21 prisoners not released:

 * To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:

2014-02-03 CNRP to try to visit jailed 23
2014-02-04 End the union-busting HRW
2014-02-04 For Myanmar garment sector, labour missing
2014-02-04 Garment exports rose 20 per cent last year
2014-02-04 Illegal factory floor removed
2014-02-05 Migrant abuse down, not out
2014-02-05 Rip-offs strike wrong chord
2014-02-05 Union eyes morning wage meet
2014-02-05 Workplace inequality pervasive
2014-02-06 Groups tell ILO to retract right to strike claim
2014-02-07 H&M exec talks Cambodia vision
2014-02-07 Strike debate a red herring
2014-02-07 Threat of mass strike looms
2014-02-10 Fate of teen still a mystery
2014-02-10 Supporters of 21 to march to embassies
2014-02-11 Demos for 21 allowed
2014-02-11 Unions opposition hindering wage talks

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2014-02-01-02 Rights groups want access to 23 detained prisoners
2014-02-03 UN concerned over suppression of rights
2014-02-04 Human rights watch says anti-union activities must end
2014-02-04 No results in protest shooting investigations
2014-02-05 Families, lawmakers denied access to 23 prisoners
2014-02-05 Garment export value up 20 percent in 2013
2014-02-05 Garment workers injured in Svay Rieng crash
2014-02-05 Three jailed after stealing garments from truck
2014-02-05 Unions argue over wage committee reforms
2014-02-06 United Nations envoy visits after protest deaths
2014-02-06 Government says US praised protest Patience
2014-02-07 Factory owner refuses to negotiate as strike continues
2014-02-07 UN envoy raises assembly ban concerns
2014-02-07 Unions to march after failure to address minimum wage
2014-02-08-09 Two of 23 jailed protesters granted bail; release date unknown
2014-02-10 Bailed garment workers speak of injustice
2014-02-11 Unions threaten nationwide strike if 21 prisoners not released

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

$160

30140212

* Freedom denied for 21:

Tears rolled down Prak Sovannary’s face as she sat on a curb in front of the Court of Appeal surrounded by her damp-eyed children and supporters yesterday afternoon, minutes after a judge denied her husband’s bail request.

“My husband and the other 20 workers have not done anything wrong,” Sovannary said. “But the court will not drop the charges against them.”

Union leaders, legal aid workers and other supporters stood in shock yesterday when Appeal Court Judge Khun Leangmeng refused bail for Sovannary’s husband, Vorn Pov – president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) – and 20 other men arrested at demonstrations supporting a nationwide garment worker strike early last month.

Two of the original 23 arrested during the January 2 and 3 protests, Bu Sarith, 27, and Phon Sokchea, 17, were released on bail on Saturday.
read more.
PPP new

* Dismay over bail rejection:

Defence attorneys will now turn to the Supreme Court after a Court of Appeals judge denied bail this morning for all 21 people still detained from clashes with authorities during garment strike demonstrations last month.

The presiding judge said he decided not to allow bail based on speculation that the detainees’ release would “disturb public order”, Sam Sokung, a defence attorney representing six of the defendants, said outside the courtroom minutes after the decision.

“We are shocked,” said Moeun Tola, head of the Community Legal Education Center, which also provided legal representation for some of the defendants. “There was not enough grounds to keep them in prison.”

Weeping in front of the courtroom after the decision was announced, were the wife, two sons and daughter of Vorn Pov, president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), who was arrested at a demonstration in front of the Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc. garment factory on January 2.

Guards at the court shut the gates to keep out about 200 people gathered outside from coming in, after land rights activist Yorm Bopha rushed into the courtroom complex after hearing the decision, falling to the ground and wailing next to Pov’s family.
read more.
PPP new

* Appeal Court Denies Bail to 21 Jailed Protesters:

20140212 CD front2
A protester holds a sign Tuesday calling for the release of Chan Puthisak, who was denied bail Tuesday by the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh along with 20 other activists and workers who were imprisoned during garment strike demonstrations on January 2 and 3. (Siv Channa)

The Court of Appeal on Tuesday denied bail to 21 workers and activists who were arrested and placed in a maximum security prison last month following the government’s deadly suppression of minimum wage protests in the garment sector.

Representatives of nine garment worker unions plan to meet today to organize a strike in response to the denial of bail for the detainees, while lawyers for the 21 said they will file an appeal with the Supreme Court this week.
None of the 21 were present in court for the bail hearing.

“We ruled to uphold the municipal court’s ruling,” said Presiding Judge Nhoung Thol.
The Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided last month to deny bail to a total of 23 detainees, who have yet to stand trial, from the strike protests, citing the alleged risk that the detainees posed to society and the need to question them further.
On Friday, a municipal court judge granted bail to two of the imprisoned protesters, including Yon Chea, 17, the only minor in the original group of 23.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Detainees not being used for leverage: Yeap:

A senior ruling party lawmaker has rejected allegations that the group of 21 activists, unionists and workers arrested during protests last month and denied bail for a second time yesterday are being used as a political tool by the government to force the opposition party to join the National Assembly.

Cheam Yeap, a Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker, yesterday insisted that the detainees’ cases were under the court’s control and that the ruling party would not be able to influence the legal outcome.

“These 21 individuals are in the hands of the court. You already know that the constitution states that there are three [separate] powers in Cambodia: legislative, executive and [judicial]. Each [branch] cannot interfere with each other’s internal affairs,” he said.
read more.
PPP new

* NO BAIL!!! :

The 21 workers, activists and union leaders who were arrested on January 2nd and 3rd during a violent crackdown (see HERE) by the army on a workers’ strike which also resulted in at least 4 being killed by bullets and numerous wounded, were being tried at the Appeals Court for a bail request. Only the lawyers were allowed in the courtroom, the 21 having been kept in their cells at the Kompong Chham prison.

The bail was refused.
The 21 will remain in jail…

UPDATED at 14:54 with additional photographs about the stand-off between riot police and protesters, disappointed by the verdict, who gathered at Preah Ang Dong riverside pagoda before attempting to march to the Royal Palace where they were dispersed by important forces of riot police…
read & see more. (photo report).
JohnVink

* Bail refused for 21 workers and human rights defenders:

The Cambodian government must immediately and unconditionally release the 21 garment workers and human rights defenders who have been detained since early January, FIDH and its member organizations Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) and Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) said today.

The Cambodian government must live up to its obligations under international law and drop all charges against those arrested for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly, expression, and association ,” FIDH President Karim Lahidji said.On February 11, the Phnom Penh Court of Appeals refused to grant bail to 21 garment workers and human rights defenders detained in Correctional Center 3 (CC3) in Kampong Cham Province. The 21 men were not present at the closed-door hearing. On February 8, Bou Sarith and Yon Sok Chea, two of the 23 who had been arrested during a brutal crackdown on 2-3 January, were released on bail from CC3 and Kampong Cham prison respectively.“ It’s shameful that 21 workers and human rights defenders have remained in jail for over a month because they took part in a strike while those responsible for the killing of four workers remain at large ,” LICADHO Director Naly Pilorge said.
read more.
fidh

* Anger as 21 Cambodian activists are denied bail:

A group of 21 garment workers, protesters and rights activists were denied bail on Tuesday, a month after the group was arrested in Phnom Penh during protests which were violently put down by the Cambodian authorities.

According to defense lawyer Sam Sokong, judges in the closed-door hearing ruled that releasing the group posed too many threats.
“They said if they released all of them on bail, it will affect public order. Or they will all escape from Cambodia and it will be difficult to call them all to court,” he said.
read more.
ucanews

* Cambodian protesters denied bail despite global concern:

Twenty-one Cambodian activists and workers arrested during a bloody crackdown on a garment industry strike last month were denied bail on Tuesday, despite international appeals for their release.

The case has heightened concerns among rights campaigners about the recent suppression of street protests intended to challenge strongman premier Hun Sen’s nearly three-decade rule. At least four civilians were killed last month when police opened fire on protesting textile factory workers who were demanding a minimum wage of $160 a month to make clothes for brands including Gap, Nike and H&M.
Police arrested 23 activists and workers during the crackdown. Two of the detainees were released on bail over the weekend while 16 others began a hunger strike on Sunday, according to prison authorities.

No date has yet been set for their trial. Rights groups say if convicted they could face up to five years’ imprisonment on charges including committing intentional violence. In an open letter to Hun Sen, a dozen international rights organisations on Monday urged authorities to release the detainees. The International Trade Union Confederation has launched a campaign to “Free the 23”, urging workers to lobby Cambodian embassies around the world.
read more.
daily times PK

* Australia Urged To Push Cambodia Over Garment Worker Crackdown:

A Victorian state Member of Parliament born in Cambodia says Australia should put pressure on Phnom Penh over a crackdown on protesting garment workers which left five people dead.

Hong Lim, the MP for Clayton here, says he was in Cambodia this month, when five protesting garment workers were shot dead in Phnom Penh.

Striking workers, armed with sticks, rocks and petrol bombs, clashed with police in the Veng Sreng factory district in Phnom Penh over wages and conditions.
read more.
BERNAMA

* Gov’t-aligned union’s strike quietly ended:

Workers at Dongdu Textile in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district ended a two-week strike yesterday after their bosses agreed to reinstate 11 union leaders and activists fired in January.

Chhin Sony, president of the government-aligned Union of Cambodia, said more than 2,000 workers returned to the factory at Vattanac II Industrial Park in the morning.
“The workers agreed to go back to work from today after we signed an agreement to finish the dispute and the company accepted those 11 unionists back,” he said.

Workers had been striking in front of the factory since January 25, without the presence of authorities. This was despite a ban on public gatherings plus police crackdowns on protesters elsewhere in the capital in recent weeks.
read more.
PPP new

* Labor Ministry Ignored Its Own Research on Minimum Wage:

The Labor Ministry on Tuesday defended its failure to act on the results of its own study, which in November found that the minimum livable wage for garment factory workers is between $157 and $177.

In its annual report, the ministry listed its wage study, carried out in conjunction with labor unions from both sides of the political divide, as its top achievement of 2013, despite the fact that it ignored the results and raised the minimum wage to just $95, since revised to $100 after mass strikes in December.

Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Suor said Tuesday that with plenty of extra hours worked in factories, workers could earn the wage they had demanded.
“The workers, most of them, they do get the $160 they have been demanding,” Mr. Suor said.

“They are allowed to work overtime and they also get other bonuses that give them enough money to live and also enough money to save and send to their families,” he said, referring to the country’s more than 400,000 garment factory workers.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

———— 23.15h (loc.time)——

* Cambodia: Bail Denied to Imprisoned Unionists:

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) deplores the denial of bail once again for the 21 Cambodian workers who remain in prison.

An appeal was immediately filed with the Supreme Court. In the meantime, however, the investigative judge will set a trial date, which could be weeks but perhaps months from now. Some of the jailed workers recently started a hunger strike to protest their detention.

“Trade unions around the world have sent a clear message to the government that these workers must be released. We are deeply disappointed that the government continues to detain these workers for their participation in the strikes and protests that took place in January this year.
We remain particularly concerned for Vorn Pao, the president of IDEA, who remains in jail despite serious health concerns. We fully expect the government to release the workers and drop the charges,” explained Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC.
read more.
ITUC CSI IGB

* Cambodian Embassies besieged – Free the 21! :

Trade unions and NGOs rallied outside Cambodian Embassies around the world  on 10 February demanding the release of Cambodian garment workers detained since the beginning of January. The campaign is set to escalate if they are not freed at tomorrow’s court hearing.

In a show of global solidarity, demonstrations took place in Brussels, Canberra, Dhaka, Geneva, Honduras, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Manila, Seoul, Sri Lanka, Tokyo and Washington D.C..
It followed a call by IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the ITUC to show international support for 23 people arrested in the capital Phnom Penh during demonstrations by garment workers fighting for a fair and living wage.

In the past few days, two workers have been released. Of the remaining 21 detainees, 16 began a hunger strike on Sunday.
In Geneva, representatives from IndustriALL, UNI and the ITUC held constructive dialogue in a meeting at the United Nations with a senior diplomat from the Cambodian Embassy in Switzerland.
read & see more.
UNI Global Union

* Cambodian court rules against bail for protesters:

A Cambodian appeals court on Tuesday refused to release on bail 21 people arrested early last month in connection with anti-government protests.

The detainees are garment workers and rights activists arrested during protests focusing on demands for a higher minimum wage for factory workers. They were charged with causing violence and damage to property. At least four people were shot dead by police during the protests.

The protests, along with opposition demonstrations calling for new elections and demonstrations against land-grabbing, pose the biggest challenge in years to authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s rule.

Defense lawyer Sam Sokong told reporters that judges said the court feared that if these detainees were freed pending trial, it would affect public order and make it harder to conduct investigations. He said he would appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
read more.
sacramento-bee

* Cambodian opposition-aligned trade unions warn to stage mass strike next month:

Cambodia’s nine opposition- aligned trade unions warned Wednesday that they would lead a weeklong strike from March 12 to 19 if the court does not free 21 detained protesters and the government does not raise minimum wages for garment workers to $160, a union leader said.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said the leaders of nine trade unions met Wednesday and approved of the protest schedule, adding that the unions would print 100,000 copies of a leaflet announcing the strike date and stating the demands.

“The demands include calls for the release of 21 detained protesters, a $160 minimum wage for garment workers and an end to the government’s temporary ban on demonstrations,” he said after the meeting.

On Tuesday, the Appeal Court refused to grant bail to the 21 protesters who were detained following violent clashes during garment workers’ protests for higher salaries early last month that left 4 people dead.
The government has imposed a temporary ban on demonstrations since then.
read more.
GLOBALTIMES

$160 We Need

$160

30140213

* Strike strategy shifts:

20140213 PPP Rong-Chhun_March
Cambodian Confederation of Unions president Rong Chhun leads a march along Sisowath Quay on Tuesday demanding 21 detainees be released and higher wages in the garment industry. Photo by Heng Chivoan.

In the wake of a Tuesday court decision to deny bail to 21 detainees arrested at demonstrations supporting a nationwide garment worker strike, union groups yesterday agreed to reignite the strike, but to dial back their tactics.

On sheets of drawing board paper, leaders of nine union groups mapped out their timeline for the strike, which will not begin until the middle of next month and will call for workers to remain home for the strike’s duration, rather than participate in demonstrations.
“We will prepare and distribute letters to workers, so that all will know and understand the purpose of this strategy,” Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, said at the meeting.

The previous strike lasted from December 24 until January 3, and only included garment sector workers, but union leaders said they will now appeal to workers in all industries to participate.
Labour representatives today today are to begin distributing to government officials and workers a letter detailing their plan to boycott overtime work at factories from February 24 to February 28; hold a public forum on March 8; and finally stage a stay-home strike from March 12 until March 19. Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, who heads a committee to investigate minimum wages, is to be an invitee to the forum.

If government officials do not free the 21 detainees, agree to a $160 minimum wage in the Kingdom’s garment and shoe industries, and comply with five other demands, the strike will continue indefinitely, Chhun said.
The timeline both gives the government time to mull over and negotiate the unions’ seven points and gives the unions time to recruit workers to participate in the strike, said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU).

“I think now, we have a month for the government to consider [our points],” Thorn said in a phone interview after the meeting, adding that the delayed strike will also provide time for international brands to apply pressure on the government, if they are willing.
read more.
PPP new

* Unions Plan 2nd Round of Mass Strikes:

After the Court of Appeal denied bail to 21 jailed protesters on Tuesday, 16 labor unions and associations announced Wednesday that they will retaliate by calling a nationwide labor strike in the middle of March.

The unions, which mainly represent workers in the garment industry, said they will also call on their members to cease working overtime between February 24 and 28 to demonstrate to factory owners and the government the importance of taking their demands seriously.
“From [February] 18 to 23, our unions will gather in front of factories to disseminate information about our seven demands,” said Yaing Sophorn, president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions.

The demands include the release of the 21 protest prisoners, a $160 minimum wage for garment workers, the prosecution of state forces who killed five protesting strikers on January 3, an end to the government’s ban on demonstrations, an end to legal action against union leaders who organized the first round of nationwide strike in December, and the payment of worker’s salaries during the strike.
Ms. Sophorn said the unions have given the government ample time to consider their demands, which have not changed fundamentally since December mass strikes.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Labor unions warn of nationwide strike next month:

Labor Unions and associations would hold nationwide strike next month to seek the release of 21 detained protesters who were rejected bail by the Court of Appeal, and to demand the minimum wage of USD160 per month for workers.

The plan of strike, which is scheduled for 12-19 March, came after a Wednesday’s meeting attended by leaders from 16 labor unions and associations.

Leaders of labor unions and associations agreed to hold the strike on 12-19 March. The workers will be informed not to go to work, said Ath Thon, President of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU).
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

30140214

* From Cambodia’s prisons, workers’ voices are still being heard:

In Cambodia, 23 workers have been jailed. Their demands were far from criminal: a liveable minimum wage.

Earlier this week, trade unions from around the world rallied in front of Cambodian embassies for the release of the jailed workers and for a liveable minimum wage.
In Cambodia, the minimum wage is now US$100 per month. According to a government-backed study, a wage of between US$157-177 is minimum required to allow people to meet their minimum monthly needs.

Yet, making the minimum wage a living wage is not the priority of Cambodian authorities.
Between 2-3 January 2014, heavily armed police, military and paid thugs resorted to violence and intimidation to quash peaceful strikes and demonstrations for an adequate minimum wage of up to US$160.
read more.
EQUALtimes

* Brands set for gov’t sit-down:

Global brands Puma and H&M are among a group of international buyers set to meet Cambodian government officials in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, only weeks ahead of planned labour action that could see thousands of apparel workers stay home.

The scheduled sit-down comes just a month after 30 brands and international unions sent a letter calling on the government to address several labour rights issues in the Kingdom.

A spokeswoman for Puma yesterday confirmed that a representative for the company would be among those meeting with a deputy prime minister on February 19, but declined to answer questions regarding the meeting’s topic. A spokeswoman for Swedish clothing brand H&M also confirmed the company will send a delegate, but declined to go into further detail.

While neither brand representative identified which deputy prime minister they are scheduled to meet, Keat Chhon, one of several to carry that title, is now heading a government committee to investigate minimum wages.
read more.
PPP new

* Government Sets Deadline for Trade Union Law :

Representatives of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on Thursday met with Labor Ministry officials to discuss the draft trade union law, which the government plans to put into effect by the end of 2014, an ILO representative said.

Tun Sophorn, the ILO’s national coordinator in Cambodia, said an ILO industrial relations specialist and an ILO international labor specialist met with Ministry of Labor Secretary of State Mam Vannak, the head of the team reviewing the draft law, and other government officials at the ministry Thursday afternoon.

“The trade union law has been a draft for two years or more already. The government was so busy lately and not moving forward. So we wanted to follow up. The government wants this law adopted by the end of this year. Their timeline is set at that,” said Tun Sophorn, the ILO’s national coordinator in Cambodia.

“[The government] wants to review the current draft internally, but also for us, we want to see the final draft before it is submitted again to the Council of Ministers. We want it to be reviewed by trade unions and employers,” he added.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* During ‘Free the 23’ Protests, Where Was CNRP?:

20140214 CD

Late last month, protesters calling for the release of 23 imprisoned workers and activists clashed with district security guards on Phnom Penh’s Norodom Boulevard.

Batons, rocks and punches were thrown, and a handful of people on both sides were left bruised and bloodied.
Later that week, opposition leader Sam Rainsy posted video and photos to his Facebook page showing him skiing down a gentle slope amid the snow-covered alpine mountains of Switzerland.

“Preferring helmets and batons in Switzerland [rather] than in Cambodia,” one Facebook user commented dryly, referring to the opposition leaders ski equipment.
“The country is having problem, CNRP president Sam Rainsy was skiing and happy. How can we trust [him] if Mr. president has an idea like that?” wrote another.
“He has sacrificed a lot of his time for the country,” retorted another Facebook user. “He deserves some fun time when going through all the stress in politics.”

Mr. Rainsy had lobbied at garment factory gates on the dusty outskirts of Phnom Penh in December urging workers to strike for a higher minimum wage. But, with 21 of those protesters now in jail awaiting trial, the CNRP’s absence from rallies to have them freed is more than a little noticeable.
And even when Mr. Rainsy has been in the country, the CNRP has been notably absent from marches and rallies to help free the original 23 strike protesters.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Garment unions regroup, plan peaceful strike in March:

Cambodian garment factory workers will be urged to skip work for a week in mid-March in a series of escalating non-cooperation measures over wages and conditions.

Unions representing garment industry employees in Cambodia are appealing to workers to boycott overtime from February 24 to 28, which they hope will force the government and factory owners to take their demands seriously.

The general will take place on March 12 when, instead of demonstrating on the streets or outside factories, workers will be urged to simply stay at home.

Eight of Cambodia’s largest non government-aligned unions agreed Wednesday on a series of civil disobedience measures designed to disrupt production in Cambodia’s largest export industry.
The unions’ strategy avoids violating the ban on public demonstrations established after last month’s unrest, when military and security forces beat and fired upon demonstrators supporting the strike, killing five and injuring dozens.

“The unions care about the life of their members, and it’s very hard for the police and soldiers [to respond] when the people simply stay at home,” said Moeun Tola, the head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center.
read more.
asiancorres

$160

30140216

* Authority warns as unionists ready to convince 100, 000 workers to join nationwide strike:

100,000 leaflets would be printed and distributed next week to garment workers in the country to urge them to join nationwide strike to put pressure on the government and the Cambodian courts to release 21 workers in jail and to increase the minimum wage of the workers up to USD160 per month.

The leaflets were ready to be printed and be delivered to the workers on March 12 after n
Nine labor unions and associations agreed already on the printing and distribution of the leaflets to invite the workers to join the strike, which is schedule for March 12.

Fa Sali, President of Coalition of National Union, said Saturday that the leaflets would contain eight lists of demands such as the request for the release of imprisoned protesters and the increase of minimum to USD160 per month.
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

30140217

* Garment Workers See Renewed Appeal in Strike:

The day military police armed with AK-47s shot dead five striking garment workers on Phnom Penh’s Veng Sreng Street last month, Keo Pheaktra, then two months pregnant, lay flat on the floor of her small rented room for hours to avoid the flying bullets.

The workers had been protesting a decision to increase their basic wage from $80 to $100 a month, saying it would still not provide enough to live on. They had been demanding $160, but scared by the killings, they returned to the factories to make clothes.

“They were successful,” Ms. Pheaktra, 28, said Sunday in front of her building, which still bears bullet holes. “They killed one to scare off 100 more. No one is happy now. We’re afraid.”

Unions say they intend to hold a second nationwide strike in March, but doubts remain over whether they can overcome workers’ fears and convince them to match the numbers of last month’s unrehearsed mass uprising.

Ms. Pheaktra, however, who is now four months pregnant, said that for many workers, fear is starting to give way to financial desperation.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Detainee speaks out online:

As lawyers for 21 defendants denied bail by the Court of Appeal last week wait for the Supreme Court to respond to their appeals, the most high-profile of the detainees is speaking out via social media.

On Friday night, Prak Sovannary, wife of Vorn Pov – president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA) – posted to her Facebook account an open letter Pov allegedly wrote from prison to his supporters.

“I know that everyone has been working day and night to secure our freedom,” the letter, which appears to be signed by Pov, reads. “Many scars and wounds are on my body, creating a lot of pain, but this will not bother or depress me . . . I hope one day in the near future, we will receive our freedom back.”

Pov was one of 10 people arrested in front of Yakjin (Cambodia) Inc during a January 2 rally supporting a nationwide garment worker strike.
In an email yesterday, a spokesperson said Yakjin never filed a court complaint against the 10 arrested there.
read more.
PPP new

* Global unions and brands to meet with Cambodian government:

On 19 February, IndustriALL Global Union, the ITUC and a number of global brands will meet with the Cambodian government to discuss the situation in the country’s garment industry following police violence that left four workers dead.

The violent end to the strike of Cambodian garment workers, rallying for an increased minimum wage in January, left four people dead, 39 injured and 23 workers imprisoned. Recently two workers were released. Of the remaining 21 detainees, 16 are on hunger strike.

IndustriALL Global Union and the ITUC will be joined by brands including H&M and Puma in the talks with the Cambodian government in Phnom Penh on Wednesday 19 February.

IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina says:
“It is encouraging that the government has agreed to meet with us and some of the major brands for constructive dialogue. It is in the interest of all to find a path towards a sustainable garment industry with living wages and freedom of association in Cambodia.”

In a rapid response, IndustriALL, UNI, the ITUC and brands joined forces in sending a letter to the Cambodian government demanding an investigation into the violence, as well as a sustainable process for reaching a new minimum wage.
read more.
Home

$160

30140219

* Cambodia discusses garment issues with buyers from global brands:

Cambodian Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon on Wednesday met with a delegation representing 30 global brands and global trade unions to discuss the current situation of garment sector.

The delegation comprised 27 global brands including H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, Gap Inc., Adidas, Puma, Levi Strauss and Co., American Eagle Outfitters, Inditex and three global trade unions, said a press statement from the Cambodian side.

The meeting was called by the Cambodian government in response to a request by the group last month, the statement said, adding that representatives of the brands and trade unions wanted to understand about the current situation of the garment sector following violent clashes between protesting workers demanding higher wages and security forces earlier last month. “Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon told the buyers that the government has always paid high attention to improving living conditions and well-being for the workers,”the statement said.”Practically, the government has increased the minimum monthly wages for workers from 80 U.S. dollars to 100 U.S. dollars, taking effect from this month.”

According to a buyers’joint statement, during the meeting, both sides discussed the development of a wage-setting process for the long term and the need for this to be methodologically sound and inclusive. “There was recognition of the need for this to be thorough and to be put in place as a matter of urgency in order to support industrial peace,”the joint statement said.

The two sides also expressed the importance of the need for all parties to respect local laws, and to make all efforts to avoid any repeat of the violence against workers, it said.
read more.
CHINAORG

* Protests, Strikes Continue in Cambodia:

Though their occupations differ, Cambodian workers are united in their push for a living wage.

Garment workers, teachers, and garbage collectors in Cambodia have launched a series of protest actions since December to demand substantial wage hikes and an improvement of their working conditions. The strikes exposed Cambodia’s mounting labor woes and worsening political crisis.

Garment workers conducted a nationwide strike last December to push for a monthly minimum wage of $160, the amount needed to survive in Cambodia based on an estimate provided by the government. Garment workers receive a monthly basic pay of $80. The garment sector is a $5 billion dollar export industry in Cambodia which employs more than 600,000 workers.

The Ministry of Labor said the full wage demand can be granted only in 2018 and a $15 wage hike is more feasible today. Strikes erupted over the measly increase; and the striking workers were later joined by the opposition party which has rejected last year’s election results and has been mobilizing thousands for several months already to call for the ouster of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
read more.
the-diplomat_logo_en

$160

30140220

* Brands, gov’t, unions meet on the issues:

After high-level government officials met with major apparel brands and international labour unions yesterday, attendees and observers said they felt positive about the government’s sincerity in improving standards for Cambodia’s garment workers.

Minimum wage reform, trade union legislation and the status of 21 people detained since their arrests at demonstrations supporting a national garment worker strike last month were among topics discussed at the forum, said Stephen Benedict, director of trade union rights for the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), who attended.

“There was some indication of what the government intends to do over the coming period, and there was a commitment of continuing the discussions with the brands and the global unions,” Benedict said after the meeting.

Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon hosted the meeting, which was also attended by secretaries of state of several ministries, including the Ministry of Labour, Benedict said. Brands that sent representatives included C&A, Gap, Inditex, H&M and Puma, while international unions were represented by ITUC and IndustriALL.

Government officials agreed to meet with the group again by the end of May, according to a joint statement of 30 international brands and unions that last month sent a letter calling for the government to address human rights issues in the garment sector and requesting yesterday’s sit-down.
read more.
PPP new

* Brands Meet With Gov’t Over Labor Unrest:

Representatives of global clothing brands Puma, Gap and H&M met with senior government ministers in Phnom Penh on Wednesday to discuss the lethal repression of a nationwide strike of garment workers last month as well as growing labor instability in the country.

The two-hour meeting at the Peace Palace, which was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon and attended by Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol and Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng, took place behind closed doors and saw the brand representatives express concern about the long-term viability of sourcing clothes from Cambodia.

The meeting opened with representatives of H&M and Gap, as well as Jyrki Raina, the general secretary of the IndustriALL Global Union, saying they had requested the meeting to discuss last month’s strike repression that saw at least five workers shot dead by military police and more than 20 workers placed in prison without trial.

“What we are worrying about at the moment is the concern about weak industrial relations here in Cambodia,” said a representative of H&M, which is the world’s second-largest clothing retailer by sales and earned profits of $3.4 billion in 2012.
(…)
“Yes, the Cambodian government has the responsibility to protect the investors in the country, to protect the citizens of the country.”

Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng provided a similar account, also detailing the government’s decision last year to increase the monthly basic wage for garment workers from $80 to $95, and later to $100, which had caused the nationwide strike of garment factory workers.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Global unions and brands meet with Cambodian government:

Global unions and a number of international brands have met with the Cambodian government to discuss the situation in the country’s garment industry following police violence that left four workers dead.

The violent end to the strike of Cambodian garment workers, rallying for an increased minimum wage in January, left four people dead, 39 injured and 23 workers imprisoned. Recently two workers were released. Of the remaining 21 detainees, 16 are on hunger strike.

IndustriALL Global Union and the ITUC were joined by brands including H&M and Puma in the talks with the Cambodian government in Phnom Penh on Wednesday 19 February.

The unions released a statement following the meeting. It read, “We can confirm that on Wednesday 19 February, a delegation representing 30 global brands and global trade unions met with H.E. Keat Chhon, Permanent Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia and high level representation from the Royal Cambodian Government.

“The meeting was called by the Cambodian government, in response to a request by the group in a letter sent on 17th January. In that letter, the brands and trade unions expressed their concerns with respect to treatment of Cambodian garment workers some of whom have been killed or wounded and others who have been detained by security forces.

“The meeting was held as an open and frank exchange during which the government shared their perspective on the situation and the actions already being taken.
During the meeting the following key points were discussed.
read more.
UNIglobalUNION

* Cambodia – tentative steps towards constructive dialogue:

On 19 February global unions and major apparel brands met with the Cambodian government to discuss a minimum wage reform, trade union legislation and the 21 imprisoned workers.

The meeting in Phnom Penh was hosted by Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, with several ministers including the Ministers of Labour and Commerce and other senior government officials present. IndustriALL Global Union and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) were joined by H&M, Inditex, Gap, C&A and Puma.

IndustriALL’s general secretary Jyrki Raina was cautiously optimistic after the meeting:
“There was some indication of what the government intends to do over the coming period, and there was a commitment of continuing the discussions with the brands and the global unions. We however cannot underestimate the challenges that lie ahead.”

Cambodia’s garment industry has grown rapidly and makes up 80 per cent of the country’s exports. Low wages and government incentives for businesses have seen a boom in the industry worth some 5 billion US dollars per year, while living standards for workers have improved slowly.
read more.
Home

* BetterFactories Media updates 18-20 February 2014, 2014-02-20 Brands, gov’t, unions meet on the issues:

* To read in the printed edition of the Phnom Penh Post:
2014-02-19 Raises pending, prices soaring
2014-02-20 Brands, gov’t, unions meet on the issues

* To read in the printed edition of the Cambodia Daily:
2014-02-20 Brands meet with gov’t over labor unrest
2014-02-20 Printing shops’ refusal to print strike leaflets delays unions

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

$160

30140221

* GMAC warns of factory closures if unionists insist on $160 per month:

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) warned that 80 percent of factories would be closed if union leaders still lead the protests, demanding the minimum wage of USD160 per month.

“If labor union groups still lead protest to demand $160 per month for workers, the factory employers would not afford such demands, and 80 percent of the factories would be closed, while some would move to other countries,” Van Sou Ieng, GMAC’s President, said Thursday.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Hun Sen Adds Armed Forces Chiefs to Strike Committee:

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday appointed the chiefs of the national police, military police, and military to the government’s Committee to Solve Strikes and Demonstrations of All Targets, which is tasked with dealing with protests.

The decision, which came the same day as senior government ministers met with global clothing brands H&M, Gap, and Puma over the lethal repression of a strike by garment workers last month, will bring the size of the committee to 49.

Among the new members of the reshuffle of the protest committee, which previously only featured lower-ranking representatives of the various armed forces, will be Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief Pol Saroeun, National Military Police commander Sao Sokha, and National Police chief Neth Savoeun.
(…)
“It’s a good sign that the heads of the various armed forces are now direct members of the committee,” he said. “The Labor Ministry only has jurisdiction over the Labor Law. The police and other armed forces are responsible for maintaining public order, and when a strike moves out of the factory into a public place, you need them control law and order.”

Twenty-one protesters remain incarcerated at a high-security prison in Kompong Cham province after being beaten and arrested by military and military police while taking part in last month’s strike by garment workers.

Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, which took part in leading the nationwide strike last month and has called for another next month, said the move was part of an ongoing program to scare garment workers.
“This is a new government measure to break the spirit of workers,” he said. “The committee is a strong obstruction for the workers, because the influence of the armed forces will cause them…to not dare to protest to demand to raise their wages.”

Garment factory unions rejected a decision late last year to increase their basic monthly wage from $80 to $95—and later to $100—taking to the streets to call for $160.
read more. & read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo PPP new

—— updated 17h loc.time —-

* Made in Cambodia: A Multi-Fiber Thread of Tears:

As 2013 drew to a close, Cambodian garment factory workers began striking in Phnom Penh for a livable wage.

Recently, the Ministry of Labor had approved a $95-a-month wage, and while this was more than the $80 a month workers had been living on, they held out for $160, which was the bottom end of a “living wage” for Cambodia, according to labor research.

Another $5 a month was offered, but workers rejected it. By January 3, the non-violent strikes ended in a military crackdown and riots. Four garment workers were shot dead, another was shot in the chest and is missing, and more than 30 were injured. A ban on public assembly was put in place, and 23 labor leaders were arrested.
(…)
The Life of a Cambodian Garment Worker
Of the half-million garment workers in the county, 90 percent are women living on about $3 a day. The garment industry accounts for about 80 percent of Cambodia’s exports. The majority of textiles exported (70 percent) are destined for popular brands in the United States, like Gap and Wal-Mart, as Cambodia enjoys “most favored nation” status with the United States under the World Trade Organization’s free trade agreement. Supplying the U.S. brands are factories based in Cambodia but owned by East Asian businessmen who contract with western brands. Cambodian women fill unskilled labor positions, sewing the clothes.

Hailing from remote regions in the countryside, factory workers typically cram into the back of a truck once a month in order to visit their families, who they help support. About 80 percent of the country still lives as subsistence farmers with young garment workers providing a vital link, sending money home to aging parents and siblings in school.
read more.
RHREALITYcheck

$160

30140222

* Gov’t Criticizes Media Coverage of Strike Violence:

The high-ranking government officials and global clothing brand representatives who took part in a meeting in Phnom Penh on Wednesday both raised concern​s​ about the media coverage of last month’s lethal repression of a nationwide strike by garment workers and its aftermath.

The meeting was called after a group of international brands who source garments from factories in Cambodia requested talks concerning the lethal and violent repression of the strike that saw five workers shot dead by military police wielding AK-47s and more than 20 people jailed.

The topic of media representations of the repression was raised by Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol, who told the meeting —which included representatives of H&M, Gap and Puma—that the government was at the mercy of media portrayals of its repression of the strike.

“When the opposition says something, and you’re not in the country, you read the newspaper and say: ‘Oh wow, that’s unbelievable, how can the government do that? Oh my god, that’s our people, our blood, our flesh and blood, we need to take care of them,’” Mr. Chanthol said, before explaining that order had been restored in the interest of the nation.

“Either you’re opposition or not, but you’re a Cambodian at the end of the day. I’m doing everything I can…to make it easy for you to make businesses in Cambodia to make better jobs for our people.”

The brand representatives also raised the issue of news coverage of the government’s armed repression of the strike and questioned whether it was presenting a full picture of the situation.
read more…
Cambodia_Daily_logo

$160

30140223

* Labor union asks workers not to go on strike:

Trade Union Workers Federation of Progress Democracy (TUWFPD) on Sunday appealed to workers in garment sector not to attend strikes called by other union leaders, saying that the strikes would adversely affect the workers themselves.

The appeal is made after some labor unions are distributing leaflets to workers to urge them to attend the strikes in order to demand the release of 21 detained protesters and the minimum wage of $160 per month for garment and footwear factory workers.
The strikes are scheduled for March 12.

A statement of TUWFPD said that a small group of labor unions are preparing their plans to protest and strike in order to cause chaos.
The TUWFPD called on the federations, labor unions, and associations to be patient, and workers to work as usual and wait for wage solutions by the government.
It also condemned union groups, which disturb workers from doing their work, and asked authorities in all levels to take actions to prevent workers from being interrupted.
to read.
CAMHERALD

$160

30140224

* Overtime strike set to begin:

20140224 PPP Garmnet-StrikeGarment workers gather behind razor wire in Phnom Penh during a demonstration in December. Garment workers have been encouraged to turn down overtime until their demands are met. Photo by Vireak Mai.

Labour union leaders expect employees from at least 100 garment factories around the country to refuse overtime work this week, as workers ease their way into a new approach to strikes.

A total of 18 unions and union confederations – eight in the garment sector and another 10 representing workers in other industries – are encouraging workers to refuse overtime in the Kingdom’s garment factories, where employees typically work at least two to four hours longer than their regular eight-hour shifts each day, said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU).

“People, now they plan to implement our strategy,” Thorn said in an interview.
Unlike the last large-scale garment worker strike, which turned deadly in January, the renewed strike will not include demonstrations, Thorn said.
read more.
PPP new

* Unions Set to Begin First Phase of Nationwide Strike:

A coalition of 18 labor unions and associations is today set to begin the first phase of a nationwide labor strike in the garment sector by calling on workers in about 100 factories to boycott working overtime, according to union leaders.

Despite efforts by the government to stifle the strike, the union leaders, who claim to represent more than 300,000 workers in the garment sector, said they will continue distributing leaflets informing workers about the threatened strike in the middle of March.

“We expect that about 100 factories will join the strike tomorrow by not working overtime while we are in the process of distributing [leaflets],” said Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union.

Mr. Thorn said that although local authorities have attempted to prevent the distribution of leaflets outside some factories, the message was still getting out.

“Although we have encountered some problems and been interrupted by authorities while distributing the leaflets, they have been successfully delivered,” he said. “Some [workers] already got our message through Facebook, the radio and other media.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Unions begin campaign to call on workers to boycott working overtime:

Labour unions and associations on Monday begin their first phase of nationwide strike by asking workers to boycott their working overtime as part of campaign to seek the release of 21 detained protesters and to demand the minimum wage of USD160 per month.

Ath Thon, President of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union, said that a collation of 18 unions and association appealed to workers not to work over time from today, and will urge workers not to work on March 12.
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

30140225

* Overtime boycott under way:

20140225 PPP Garment-Portest
Garment workers march towards the Ministry of Labour in Phnom Penh during a demonstration late last year to demand the industry’s minimum wage be raised to $160. Photo by POST STAFF

A threatened overtime boycott began at many of Cambodia’s garment factories yesterday – but not everyone could afford to walk off the job at her shift’s scheduled end.

At 4pm, thousands of workers poured out of their factories as part of their ongoing calls for a $160 monthly minimum wage and the release of 21 men arrested during a strike last month, said Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers.

“Workers almost everywhere – in every province – left without doing overtime,” he stated.
Sina said last night that workers from more than 200 factories had walked off the job. At 60 of those factories, he added, every worker had taken part in the strike.

Sean Sophal, a worker representative from SL Garment in Phnom Penh, said employees had decided to boycott overtime for the rest of the week.

“We decided not to work overtime from today until Friday in order to demand higher wages and to urge relevant institutions to find a resolution to our demands,” she said.
But not everyone could forgo the extra pay that overtime adds to their meagre salaries.

Bouy Srey Mom, a worker at Siu Quinh Garment in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, said she needed to keep working to support her family.
“I can get $1 per hour [for overtime], and I only do two hours per day,” she said.
read more.
PPP new

* Garment Workers Begin Boycott of Overtime:

Labor unions and garment factory owners gave opposing reports of the scale of an overtime boycott that began Monday as the first phase of a nationwide labor strike planned for next month.

Union leaders estimated that workers refused to work overtime at between 100 and 200 factories, while the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC) said that “very, very few” of the country’s more than 400 factories were affected by the industrial action.

“Most factories are working at normal overtime,” said Ken Loo, secretary-general of GMAC. “Only certain factories where these unions have majority of members [are affected]. There are some small pockets here and there.”
“But most factories are not affected,” Mr. Loo added. “This goes to prove what we have said all along, that a minority of workers want to strike and the majority want to work.”

However, Ath Thorn, head of the country’s largest independent union, said that about 25 percent of the country’s exporting garment factories saw workers walk out after eight hours on the job.
“We can estimate that [workers at] about 100 factories boycotted working overtime,” Mr. Thorn said, adding that workers walked out of factories along National Roads 1, 4, 5, 6 and on Veng Sreng Street, where five protesting garment workers were shot dead by military police on January 3.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Hun Sen lifts protest ban:

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday called on the authorities to lift their bans on public rallies to grant equal rights to citizens.

Speaking at inauguration ceremony of a coal power plant in Sihanouk province, he said the city and provincial authorities have to allow the citizens to exercise their rights to stage  rallies and protests.

There are currently two kinds of protest movements, the ones staged by opposition supporters and the other ones held by the government supporters, said the Premier.
read more.
CAMHERALD

$160

30140226

* Demonstrators Demand Release of 21 Detainees:

About 60 monks and land rights activists from communities facing eviction in Boeng Kak, Borei Keila, and nearby Phnom Penh International Airport protested outside the Supreme Court building Tuesday for the release of 21 people arrested during strike demonstrations in January.

Holding lotus flowers, incense and placards, the protesters marched three times around the city block where the court is situated, shouting for the release of the 21 detainees.

“We don’t only want their release on bail, but also for [the court] to drop all charges since they are victims and not wrongdoers,” said Tep Vanny, an anti-eviction activist from the Boeng Kak area of the city.

“Although the Municipal and Appeal Courts denied releasing [the 21] on bail, we hope the Supreme Court will provide justice for them since they are not guilty,” Ms. Vanny said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Workers in 200 factories boycott overtime work:

20140226 CAMBODIAHERALD

Workers in about 200 factories boycotted working overtime on Tuesday after having been urged by a coalition of labor unions and associations.

This is part of their campaign toward nationwide strike, according to Cambodian Labor Union Federation.

The coalition of 18 unions and associations appealed to workers to boycott working overtime from February 24-28 to seek the release 21 detained protesters and the demand of USD 160 per month for garment and footwear workers.

If there is no solution for them, they will hold nationwide strike, which is scheduled on March 12-15.
to read.
CAMHERALD

* Strike Justified, Suppression Not, Experts Say:

Garment workers’ calls for a $160 minimum wage are justified and should be honored, a new report by an international team of academics and labor experts has found.

The authors—including a team from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, South Korean and Philippine union groups, and the Asia Monitor Resource Center in Hong Kong—traveled to Cambodia to speak with workers and union activists following the government’s suppression of garment strikes in January during which five people were killed.

“The demand of Cambodian workers to lift the minimum wage to $160 is fair and reasonable, as their real wages have been stagnant despite their tremendous contribution to Cambodia’s economic growth,” states the 52-page report, which will be released officially on Thursday in Hong Kong.

“The disproportionate use of force by the government to suppress these legitimate protests demonstrates that the government is more concerned with protecting the interests and profits of the employers of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) than protecting the workers’ rights to a decent living wage, freedom of association and other basic human rights,” it continues.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Boycott a tough call for many:

Outside the Bloomtime Embroidery factory in Por Sen Chey district yesterday, Chenda, a 23-year-old garment employee, said he would refuse overtime work this week, even though it means a large cut to his monthly wage.

“I can get about $30 per month from overtime work,” said Chenda, who declined to give his full name. “I need the money, but I want to help the other workers who are detained in prison.”

About half an hour later, at 5pm, Theara, 35, walked out of the nearby Bright Sky factory with more than 2,000 other workers finishing their overtime shift.
Forgoing overtime seems pointless, since so few in her factory went along with the boycott, said Theara, who also declined to give her full name.

“On Monday, between 30 and 40 workers among more than 3,000 workers boycotted overtime,” Theara said. “It is difficult to succeed, because workers are not united.”
The actual size of a boycott of overtime work in Cambodia’s garment factories remained dubious yesterday, as it moved into its second day. Garment workers participating demand a minimum monthly wage raise to $160, the release of 21 detainees arrested during demonstrations supporting a garment worker strike early last month and five other points.

Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said more than 150,000 workers across 129 factories boycotted overtime on Monday, but he didn’t yet have yesterday’s total.
read more.
PPP new

* As Workers Boycott Overtime, CPP Goes on Counteroffensive:

As thousands of garment factory workers continued to boycott working overtime in the first phase of a threatened nationwide strike, Prime Minister Hun Sen and CPP-aligned union leaders have launched their own campaign to keep the industry’s labor force at work.

Mr. Hun Sen personally called on factory workers Tuesday to refrain from taking part in strikes that he said could destroy the garment industry, and CPP-aligned unions distributed leaflets warning workers of the danger of joining the strike, which is planned for the middle of March.

“We try to contact and facilitate factories to invest in Cambodia…and they have moved out from the countries that have high labor prices to our location, which has reasonable labor prices,” Mr. Hun Sen said during a speech at the opening of a coal-powered electricity plant in Preah Sihanouk province.

The prime minister said that people who are supporting workers in their calls for a $160 minimum wage would be exposed as frauds when factories begin to leave the country due to high rates of industrial action.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Hun Sen warns strikes will lead to factory closures:

Prime Minister Hun Sen once again warned the labor union leaders would be held responsible for the closure of factories which can be caused by protests and strikes.

Hun Sen made the comments Tuesday, while a coalition of labor unions and associations are currently asking the workers to join nationwide strike scheduled for March 12 to demand the release of 21 detained protesters and the minimum wage of $160 per month for garment and footwear workers.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Cambodian PM holds opposition-backed unions responsible for future factory closures due to strikes:

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday that the opposition-aligned unions, inciting garment workers to stage strikes for higher wages, must take responsibilities for any future closures of factories.

“The government has worked very hard to attract investors to build factories and has urged manufacturers to increase wages for workers every year,” he said during the inauguration of a coal- fired power plant in Preah Sihanouk province.

“We wait and see if any factories close doors due to demonstrations or strikes demanding higher wages,” the prime minister said. “When investors close factories, (unemployed) workers should hold protests against those inciting unions and demand those inciters to find jobs for them.”

The minimum monthly wage for Cambodian garment workers is 100 U. S. dollars.
“Currently, the wages for our garment workers are higher than those of Laos, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Myanmar,” Hun Sen said.

The prime minister’s remarks came after a coalition of 18 opposition-aligned trade unions and associations have incited garment and footwear workers to boycott working overtime since Monday to demand a 160 U.S. dollars minimum wage and the release of 21 detained protesters.
read more.
CHINAORG

* We can protest, too: PM:

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday warned that any future demonstrations by the opposition party would be matched with pro-government protests by ruling party supporters who have “equal rights” to do so, suggesting the current ban on public assembly may soon be lifted.

A government spokesman later said a lifting of the ban – imposed in the wake of a violent crackdown on protesting garment workers last month – was the “will” of the premier, though it would be up to relevant authorities to decide whether that happens.
read more.
PPP new

* Made in Cambodia: Garment Workers Fight Gap, H&M and Others for a Minimum Wage:

As 2013 drew to a close, Cambodian garment factory workers began striking in Phnom Penh for a livable wage.

Recently, the Ministry of Labor had approved a $95-a-month wage, and while this was more than the $80 a month workers had been living on, they held out for $160, which was the bottom end of a “living wage” for Cambodia, according to labor research.

Another $5 a month was offered, but workers rejected it. By January 3, the non-violent strikes ended in a military crackdown and riots. Four garment workers were shot dead, another was shot in the chest and is missing, and more than 30 were injured. A ban on public assembly was put in place, and 23 labor leaders were arrested.

International media coverage showed Cambodian youth clad in skinny jeans, covered in blood and running from the military.
Lost in coverage of the social unrest were the women behind the movement.

The Life of a Cambodian Garment Worker
Of the half-million garment workers in the county, 90 percent are women living on about $3 a day. The garment industry accounts for about 80 percent of Cambodia’s exports.
The majority of textiles exported (70 percent) are destined for popular brands in the United States, like Gap and Wal-Mart, as Cambodia enjoys “most favored nation” status with the United States under the World Trade Organization’s free trade agreement. Supplying the U.S. brands are factories based in Cambodia but owned by East Asian businessmen who contract with western brands.
Cambodian women fill unskilled labor positions, sewing the clothes.
read more.
Women-feminist-solidariy

* Cambodian garment workers take new approach to strikes:

Taking a new approach to strikes, workers at about 100 garment factories in Cambodia are likely to refuse overtime work from this week, reports The Phnom Penh Post.
In Cambodia, employees generally work two to four hours more than their regular eight-hour shift each day. But, to press their seven-point demand, including a raise in the monthly minimum wage to US$ 160 per month, a group of 18 unions and confederations have come together and are encouraging garment workers to refuse overtime, says the report.
In case there is no progress in addressing their demands, even after refusing to work overtime, the unions plan to stage a stay-at-home strike in mid-March.
read more.
fibre2fashion

$160

30140227

* Scores of factories ‘set to sue’ over strike:

20140227 PPP Factory-Workers
A stream of garment workers leaves a factory after finishing a shift yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo by Hong Menea.

The owners of 170 factories have handed power of attorney to the nation’s factories association ahead of a potential lawsuit directed at the leaders of six union groups.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) secretary-general Ken Loo said yesterday that the factories would seek damages related to the late-December to early-January strike, which ended with a government crackdown that left at least four protesters dead by police bullets.
“It’s based on damage to property and incitement, in a nutshell,” Loo said.

An unofficial translation by the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) of what it claims is a January 5 complaint filed by GMAC to Phnom Penh Municipal Court names liable parties as the leaders of C.CAWDU, the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, the Free Trade Union, the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association and the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions.

Loo confirmed those named in the complaint but could not confirm the authenticity of C.CAWDU’s document, saying he had not seen the unofficial translation. He declined to name specific companies that gave GMAC power of attorney or how much GMAC plans to seek in damages.

Leaders of all six union groups encouraged garment workers to strike after the Ministry of Labour set the industry’s 2014 minimum monthly wage at $100, rather than the $160 unions demanded.“
[GMAC] tries to use its power to try and find a way to destroy trade unions,” said C.CAWDU president Ath Thorn, who has forwarded the complaint to international labour unions and rights groups.
read more.
PPP new

* As Garment Sector Strikes Loom, Soldiers Watch Over Factories:

Armed soldiers will continue to patrol Veng Sreng Street, the garment factory-lined thoroughfare in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district where military police shot dead five workers during a nationwide strike last month, until labor unrest in the garment sector subsides, the deputy commander of the military’s Brigade 70 said on Tuesday.

Soldiers from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Brigade 70 and Brigade 99, who openly carry AK-47 assault rifles and were first deployed to the area after last month’s lethal strike suppressions, have maintained an ominous presence along the street since a union-led boycott of overtime hours began Monday.

“We deployed our forces to provide security both for the people and workers, and for the confidence of investors,” said General Hem Tha, the deputy commander of Brigade 70, when asked about the presence of his forces along the street Tuesday.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Gov’t Suspends Freedom of Association for Unions:

Following a complaint from the Free Trade Union (FTU) over the Ministry of Labor’s refusal to register 10 local branches of its organization, a ministry official said Wednesday that the constitutional right to freedom of association has been suspended until a new trade union law is passed by the government.

Chea Mony, president of the FTU, an opposition-aligned union, said Wednesday that he sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen complaining about the Ministry of Labor’s rejection of his request to license new branches of his union.

“I submitted a proposal with the registration department at the Labor Ministry to register local unions in factories and enterprises, but one officer told me his minister [Ith Sam Heng] temporarily banned issuing [licenses for unions],” Mr. Mony said.

Heng Sour, spokesman for the Ministry of Labor, confirmed that Mr. Hun Sen’s CPP-led government would not be issuing licenses to new unions until a forthcoming trade union law is adopted and implemented.
Under that proposed law, new unions would need permission from the ministry in order to register and organize, Mr. Sour said.
“We will allow unions to create local unions in factories and enterprises after the law is put into official use,” he said.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Keeping the Heat on Cambodia:

The International Labor Rights Forum continues its coordination of a major union solidarity campaign against the alleged killing and imprisonme nt of garment workers in Cambodia.
see video report-interview.
IAM

$160

30140228

* Free the 23: meet the global campaigners supporting Cambodia’s garment workers:

20140228 PPP map

Since the government imposed a ban on public assembly following garment worker strikes that turned violent on January 2 and 3, there hasn’t been much visible protest action on the streets of Phnom Penh.

Rights advocates, however, have continued campaigning for the lifting of the minimum wage to $160 per month and, critically, for the release of 23 (though two have been bailed) detainees arrested during January’s protests.

But whatever happens in Phnom Penh following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s suggestion that he will lift the ban on public assembly earlier this week, human rights organisations and trade union movements such as IndustriALL Global Union have helped spread the Free the 23 campaign worldwide. Emily Wight reports. Illustration by David Pinho.

Malawi
“We all live in a global village, from Africa to Cambodia,” said 65-year-old Harry Willard Mamba over email from Malawi this week, when asked why the organisation for which he is co-ordinator, the Lilongwe Urban Poor People’s Network (LUPPEN), had pledged their support to Cambodian garment workers.
(…)
Australia
While Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s government is hardly sympathetic to unions at home, let alone abroad – earlier this month they announced a wide-ranging investigation into alleged corruption that domestic trade leaders called a ‘political witchhunt’ – there are plenty who are.
(…)
UK
You wouldn’t find the UK’s Embassy of Cambodia unless you were specifically looking for it. Tucked away on a residential street in London’s northwest, it’s a good twenty minutes’ walk from the nearest underground station.
(…)
Belgium
Jessie van Couwenberghe and her colleagues at the Belgian trade union ACV found an unusual way to support garment workers on the other side of the world earlier this month.
(…)
Germany
When Eva Pfannerstill, a 24 year old student in chemical biology, found a Facebook group of Germans in solidarity with Cambodian garment workers, she immediately wanted to join in. Having spent 12 months volunteering in Kampong Speu five years ago, she thought of the friends she has since kept up contact with. “I love Cambodia and it’s important for me to know what’s going on there, so I regularly follow the political news of the country”, she said.
(…)
South Korea
When garment workers from a Cambodian factory met with the Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU) as part of an IndustriALL meeting in Seoul last year, Hyewon Chong, executive director of the union’s international department, couldn’t help but sympathise with their plight. The female Cambodian workers told the meeting that a thousand police troops raided a strike rally in May last year, injuring several women and causing two pregnant women to miscarry.
read more.
PPP new

* In Vietnam, ‘they don’t shoot their workers’; in Cambodia, they do:

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said Cambodia’s garment workers are paid a fair wage, comparing the new monthly wage of $100 to Vietnam’s. He suggests the unions are too demanding and that investors will flee.  However, a researcher points out Vietnam is in flux too.

“In Vietnam there have been all kinds of strikes over the past 10 years. Tens of thousands of workers have gone on strikes.  It’s a very active worker community,” said labor researcher Dennis Arnold.  Arnold has written several reports on the garment industry in Southeast Asia and recently advised a fact-finding mission looking into the deaths of four Cambodian garment workers, with an additional one missing and assumed dead and over 30 injured.  The report, titled A Day that Shook Cambodia, found that Cambodia’s military provoked protestors and that some of the military did double duty by working for Yakjin Factory where the crackdown took place, in addition to their regular job.

The government has alleged that the strikers were “extremists” but Arnold points out that strikes are common in Vietnam as well but are relatively unreported in the media compared to Cambodia.

“Unions [in Vietnam] mediate between the government and workers, they aren’t true representatives of workers’ interests,“ explained Arnold.  “Yet you see a lot of ‘wildcat’ [worker-led, technically illegal] strikes there.”

However, he said “they don’t shoot their workers.” If that were to happen, Vietnam’s socialist image would take a hit.  “But [Vietnam’s workers] are not yet seen as a political threat.”
read more.
asiancorres

* Leaflet arrests questioned:

The arrests and temporary detainment of two union activists for passing out pamphlets yesterday has union supporters and a prominent lawyer questioning whether a law even exists that would justify the police action.

Russei Keo district police arrested Yin Sareoun, secretary general of National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and Choub Nith, an accountant with the union, as they passed out flyers supporting a worker boycott on overtime work in front of Evergreen Apparel (Cambodia) Co Ltd.

“When my accountant and I were passing out leaflets to Evergreen workers, a few policemen came and grabbed my bag and motorcycle key without saying anything to us,” Sareoun told the Post yesterday. “After that, they took us to their office for questioning and released us after we agreed to thumbprint a document” about an hour later.
read more.
PPP new

* Union Representatives Detained for Distributing Strike Leaflets:

Two union representatives said that they were detained and “educated” Thursday for distributing leaflets calling on workers to participate in a nationwide strike next month.

Yin Saroeun, secretary-general of the National Trade Unions Coalition, said police detained him and his colleague, Chuob Noek, at about 11 a.m. after they distributed strike leaflets outside the Evergreen garment factory in Russei Keo district. They were taken to the Russei Keo commune police station and were only released after they had thumbprinted declarations swearing that they would not hand out any more leaflets.

“We were threatened by them that if we did not follow their orders, they would take our belongings,” Mr. Saroeun said, adding that he and Mr. Noek were held for about an hour.

“They had no right to arrest us since there is no law that states that distributing leaflets is illegal—we just distributed the leaflets to inform and make workers understand our demands,” he added.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Labor Ministry Denies It Has Stopped Recognizing Unions:

The Labor Ministry in a statement Thursday insisted that unions were still free to register as entities recognized by the government, a day after a ministry spokesman said that union registration had been effectively suspended for the foreseeable future.

Free Trade Union (FTU) president Chea Mony claimed on Wednesday that the Labor Ministry was refusing his request to register 10 new branches in the country’s garment factories.

Mr. Mony said an official at the ministry’s registration department told him last week that Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng had put a freeze on issuing union licenses.
Mr. Mony also sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen to complain.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

— update 22.45h (loc.time) —-

* Cambodian government must urgently restart dialogue with unions:

At the end of a week of overtime boycotts by garment workers in Cambodia, IndustriALL is urging the Cambodian government to resume negotiations with unions without delay.

“We call upon the government to urgently restart dialogue with the workers’ unions to avoid an escalation of the conflict and a complete breakdown in relations between unions, the government and factory owners,” said IndustriALL’s general secretary Jyrki Raina.
The overtime strike, which began on Monday, has had a noticeable impact on the textile sector in Cambodia. The garment workers are demanding the release of 21 protestors arrested during strikes in January which saw four demonstrators shot dead by police.

The strikers also continue to call for an increase in the minimum wage from the current figure of US$100 to US$160 per month.
Despite a constructive meeting with government ministers, global unions and brands on 19 February, IndustriALL is alarmed by the recent turn of events which has seen the government refusing to register new unions until a new trade union law is passed, which might not be until the end of the year.
read more.
Home

$160

30140303

Gatherings continue for justice and release:

20140303 Jonathon LouthRallying to  FreeThe21 Photo by Jonathon Louth.

This morning, civil society groups gathered once again to call for the release of 21 detainees, including garment workers and human rights activists, arrested in early January.

The group, including land communities, monks, youth networks, unions and NGOs, chanted, banged drums and sung outside Wat Ounalom for about an hour from 8am. The gathering was disrupted after authorities confiscated the drum and loudspeakers; a smaller group of about 200 participants, mainly from land communities, moved to Daun Penh district office to ask for the return of their confiscated equipment.
They were confronted by security guards outside the office, leading to a minor clash which saw two women injured.
read more.
licadho

* Unions plan forum:

The leaders of 18 unions and union confederations this week will invite ruling and opposition party members to take part in a public forum where labour relations issues will be discussed.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions (CCU), yesterday said the letters have already been drafted and signed, with the forum to take place before a stay-at-home strike planned for later this month.

“We will send the letter to those officials tomorrow or Tuesday to invite them to join our public forum,” Chhun said.

Among those called to join are Minister of Labour Ith Sam Heng, Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon and leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, Chhun added.

The forum, which is scheduled to take place on International Women’s Day next Saturday, is the next step in garment workers’ persistent protest of the government’s failure to set the industry’s minimum monthly wage at $160 and the continued detention of 21 garment workers arrested at demonstrations supporting a nationwide garment worker strike in early January.

Workers at some garment factories last week boycotted overtime work. If no progress is made on their demands, workers will stage a strike, during which they will stay home from work, but not hold any public demonstrations, from March 12 until at least March 19.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour program at the Community Legal Education Center, yesterday said that the unions had filed a request last Thursday with authorities to hold their forum at Freedom Park.
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodian workers to be “hardest hit victims” if minority unions still plan strikes: GMAC:

Cambodian workers will be the ultimate victims if minority and violent unions continue to put the garment and shoe industries under the state of uncertainty and unpredictability by continuing to demand for further wage hikes that the industry cannot afford, an employers’ association said in a statement Sunday.

The statement issued by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said although the Labor Advisory Committee had already decided on the new minimum wage by a majority vote, minority and violent unions continue with daily threat of strikes, demonstrations and disruption of the workplace.

“Many factories have reported the reduction in orders starting from April this year as many buyers have evaluated and now consider Cambodia as a high-risk country,” it said.
(…)
The statement came after eight 8 opposition-aligned trade unions jointly announced early this week to renew a garment strike from March 12 to 19 to demand a 160 U.S. dollars minimum wages for garment workers and the release of 21 detainees who were arrested on Jan. 3 during a violent protest.

Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said the eight trade unions represented about 200,000 of the 600,000 workers in more than 900 garment and shoe factories in the kingdom.

“We have no choice, but to proceed with our plan to lead a stay- at-home strike from March 12 to 19 if our demands are not met,” he said Sunday.
read more. & to read. & to read.
CHINAORG GLOBALTIMES daily star bd

* A life forever changed:

Inside a rehabilitation centre in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, Hoeun Chan is slowly and arduously training his arms to be stronger.

Each morning, he lifts his body from his bed into a new wheelchair, then grips his hands on its sides and pushes his weight up and down.
In time, he hopes this repetition will lead to improved strength and increased mobility. For now, occasional mishaps and overbalancing sometimes cause his wheelchair to roll over, sending him falling to the floor.

Chan, 27, has been paralysed from the waist down since being shot in the side by police near the SL Garment factory strike on the day it boiled over in the streets of the capital’s Meanchey district in November.

“After doctors in Cambodia said I was crippled for life, I felt utterly hopeless,” he told the Post at his temporary new home at the Kien Khleang Rehabilitation Centre yesterday. “At first, I did not want to live. All my life, I was looked after by mother and hoped that when I graduated from university, I could support her and give her a comfortable life. Instead, she has to take care of me like I am a child again.”
read more.
PPP new

$160

30140304

* Daun Penh Guards Seize Protest Drum, Scuffle With Activists:

20140304 CD cam-photo-front
Daun Penh district security guards push aside protesters and seize a ceremonial drum that was being played at a police roadblock Monday on Phnom Penh’s Sisowath Quay. The protesters were calling for the release of 21 people who were beaten and jailed during strike demonstrations in January. (Siv Channa)

Two political activists were injured by district security guards outside the Daun Penh district office Monday morning after a protest to free 21 protesters beaten and imprisoned during a strike in January turned into an effort to reclaim a confiscated protest drum.

The protesters, dressed in white and holding small plaques bearing the names and occupations of the 21 people being held in a high-security prison in Kompong Cham prison, had begun the day in front of the Supreme Court demanding the release of the detainees.

With Prime Minister Hun Sen attending an event at the nearby Chaktomuk Conference Hall, a large security presence greeted and scuffled with the protesters, who numbered at most 150. A group of Daun Penh security guards, masked by their customary black motorcycle helmets, seized a drum being beaten loudly by the protesters.

Marching to Wat Ounalom on Sisowath Quay with a small group of police watching on, the protesters did three loops of a small triangular traffic refuge. They then freed 21 caged birds and made their way to the Daun Penh office to demand their drum back.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Workers ‘locked inside’ during overtime strike:

Workers at two different garment factories say that managers locked them inside their workplaces last week when they tried to participate in a boycott of overtime.

Union representatives and rank-and-file employees at Kampong Speu province’s Complete Honour Footwear Industrial Cambodia Co, Ltd and Dai Yi Fashion in the capital’s Russey Keo district yesterday told the Post that management locked the doors as local police intimidated workers after they completed their regular eight-hour shifts, forcing them to work overtime.

“The factory forced the workers to work overtime and locked the gate” on Monday and Tuesday of last week, said Ngem Sophan, president of Worker Friendship Union Federation (WFUF) in the Dai Yi factory.

Lock-ins at about 4pm – the end of the factory’s normal eight-hour shift – early last week coincided with the beginning of a week-long boycott of overtime work supported by a coalition of 18 unions and union federations.
The boycott was held to demand an industry minimum wage increase to $160 per month, the release of 21 detainees arrested at demonstrations supporting a nationwide garment strike in January and five other points.
read more.
PPP new

$160

30140305

* ‘Like animals in a cage’:

A day after union leader Vorn Pov was violently arrested during garment strikes in early January, he was driven to an unknown location and told by armed officers to get out of the vehicle.

“I was in shock and scared that I could be shot,” the 39-year-old told the Post inside Correctional Center 3 in Kampong Cham province on Monday. “At one stage, they stopped and, armed with guns, led me in handcuffs. But we were just told to urinate then get back in.”

Pov, the president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA), shook slightly as he spoke with a reporter in a visitor’s room in the prison, also known as Trapaing Plong.

“We live here like animals in a cage,” he said of the place he and 20 other men – activists and workers – have been held since security forces cracked down on striking garment workers on January 2 and 3. “Wherever we walk, we have a security guard follow us. It’s completely unjust. Why did they arrest us? We are victims.”
read more.
PPP new

* Park off limits; unions defiant:

Union groups said they will go through with a planned forum on labour rights in Cambodia’s garment sector at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on Saturday, despite the municipal government’s forbidding of the gathering yesterday.

In a meeting at City Hall yesterday morning, government officials told representatives of 18 union groups that the number of people estimated to attend – between 10,000 and 30,000 – exceeded the limit of 200 people allowed to gather at Freedom Park, said Sok Chhun Oeung, acting president of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economy Association (IDEA).

“The municipality’s decision to forbid the forum shows that low- and mid-level authorities do not follow the government’s leaders,” Chhun Oeung said. “This is what makes people lose trust in the ruling government.”
read more.
PPP new

* City Hall Denies Unions Permission for Freedom Park Forum:

A group of 18 labor unions and associations said they will proceed with plans for a public forum in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on Saturday, despite City Hall’s rejecting their request, citing public security concerns.

The unions, who are organizing a nationwide strike in the garment industry on March 12 for a higher minimum wage and other demands, sent a letter to City Hall on February 26 informing them of the public forum, to which government and opposition party leaders had been invited to address an anticipated crowd of 30,000 garment workers.

Denial of the unions’ right to gather at Freedom Park comes exactly a week after Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed that he had reinstated the constitutional right to freedom of assembly, which he suspended in early January.

“Federations and unions who asked to hold the above event are being asked to hold it at their own offices in order to maintain a good security situation in Phnom Penh,” the municipality said in a statement after meeting with union leaders Tuesday morning.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* CNRP Looks for Quieter Plan of Action as Labor Strike Looms:

When a group of six unions organized nationwide strikes in December demanding a $160 minimum wage, the opposition CNRP aggressively took up the cause.

Opposition leaders rallied support outside factory gates around the country and tens of thousands of garment workers flooded into Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, where CNRP president Sam Rainsy told them not to accept a dollar less than $160 a month.
More than two months after the government violently suppressed demonstrations by garment workers and supporters of the CNRP, labor unions are planning a second round of strikes, set to begin next week, in which workers will be asked to stay at home.

But this time, the CNRP is taking a much more passive approach to its support for workers.
Mr. Rainsy said that CNRP leaders have not discussed what role the party will play in the upcoming strikes, set to begin on March 12, which are being organized by 16 labor unions and associations.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Factory ignored direct order: cops:

When commune police in Kampong Speu ordered Complete Honour Footwear factory administrators to open their gates and allow workers to leave last week, management there simply refused, police told the Post yesterday.

“The company did not listen to my order to open the door,” said Kheng Chan Thol, police chief of Kong Pisei district’s Chong Roc commune. “They worried about property destruction some union workers and workers may cause.”

In interviews with the Post on Monday, four employees reported that the factory locked its gates, preventing workers last week from participating in a week-long boycott of overtime work in protest at the government’s refusal to raise the sector’s minimum monthly wage to $160 and its continued detainment of 21 protesters.
read more.
PPP new

* End Right to Unionize, Businesses Ask Hun Sen:

Prime Minister Hun Sen told business leaders and government officials Tuesday that he will not tolerate “illegal” labor strikes that harm investment, but avoided judgment on a request to withdraw ratification of a U.N. convention protecting workers’ rights to unionize.

Speaking at the 17th Government-Private Sector Forum, Mr. Hun Sen also referred to the opposition CNRP as an “extremist group” that had stirred unrest by enticing garment workers to take part in illegal activities during a nationwide strike two months ago.

“The opposition party and its unions have used a subversive policy that takes the workers to be a political [tool], and have instigated the staging of illegal strikes, especially to demand an extreme minimum wage, with the intention of destroying the investment climate, workers benefits, and job opportunities for the youth,” Mr. Hun Sen said.
“The government would like to reaffirm that the implementation of the freedom to make demands [unionize] must be done legally,” he said.
“If it is done against the law, there will be no tolerance.”
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* PM slams CNRP ‘incitement’:

Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that the government would not allow the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party to use garment workers as “political hostages” in a strongly worded rebuke of what he painted as a conspiratorial relationship between the CNRP and a number of trade unions to incite protest.

“The opposition party and its trade union [allies] have been exercising political demagogy by using workers as their political pedal [and] inciting workers to illegally strike and demonstrate for an [unrealistic] minimum wage as part of their aim to pollute the investment environment, destroy workers’ benefits and job opportunities for youth,” the premier said in a speech at the 17th Government-Private Sector Forum.
read more.
PPP new

* Cambodian PM says no more tolerance for illegal protests:

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated Tuesday that the government would no longer tolerate illegal strikes or demonstrations led by the opposition and its aligned trade unions.

Speaking during the 17th Government-Private Sector Forum, the premier said the opposition party and its trade unions have used demagogue to incite garment workers to hold illegal strikes and demonstrations to demand higher wages unreasonably.

“They are using workers as their political pedal with their aim to pollute investment climate and destroy workers’ benefits and job opportunities for youth,” he said at the forum, which was attended by some 400 government officials, business representatives, diplomatic corps and development partners.
read more.
CHINAORG

* Hun Sen says wage hikes should be linked to increased productivity:

Prime Minister Hun Sen has told local business leaders that increased wages should be linked to improvements in the productivity of workers.

Speaking at the 17th Government-Private Sector Forum on Tuesday, he said higher wages “must be attached to the production capacity of each worker and employee.”
NEED FOR INCREASED COMPETITIVENESS
“When factories/enterprises production capacity rises, so does their competitiveness. When their products are more competitive, their revenue will increase.
“As a result, factories/enterprises will be able to increase wage for their workers. Hence, productivity improvement not only enhances Cambodia’s competitiveness in the ASEAN Economic Community 2015, but also benefits workers and employees,” the prime minister said.
EXTREMISTS DESTROYING INVESTMENT CLIMATE
Hun Sen said the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party and its unions had been misleading workers to stage illegal strikes and protests to demand excessive minimum wages.
Such activities were “destroying the investment climate, the interests of workers and employees and job opportunities for our youth,” he said. “Those extremists still maintain their evil intention with motivation and support from some outsiders.”
The prime minister added that “the use of rights to demand anything must comply with laws and regulations and further violation will not be tolerated.”
NEED TO WORK HARDER
Hun Sen stressed the need to “work harder in a more cohesive and complementary manner to ensure the competitive advantage of the economy, improved productivity, low costs of doing business and investment attraction.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* Labour Anger Simmers in Cambodia:

An uneasy calm prevails in Cambodia after the government crackdown on protests by garment workers in January. With public gatherings banned and charges framed against 23 union leaders and activists, labour discontent may not be spilling on to the streets, but it is simmering.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has now called for removal of the ban on public assembly.
The government should not be suppressing the demonstrators if they want to prove that Cambodia is a democratic country,” Phorn Sreywin, a 26-year-old garment worker, told IPS.

She has the support of the Workers Information Centre (WIC), which supports women in the garment industry, but voices asking for higher minimum wages in this impoverished Southeast Asian country appear to have been muffled for the time being.

“There should never have been a ban as this contradicts the Constitution and treaties ratified by Cambodia,” Naly Pilorge, Director of the human rights NGO LICADHO, told IPS by e-mail.

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), 93 percent of which comprises foreign business owners, mostly from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, has cited the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) convention number 87 to claim that workers have no “right to strike”.
(..)
Trade unions have also condemned GMAC for stating that it condoned the military action on striking garment workers Jan. 3 that killed four of them, left one missing and seriously injured over 30.

“The response from the Cambodian government is very oppressive,” said Pranom Somwong, a labour activist and consultant for the Clean Clothes Campaign who helped organise a protest in Bangkok in front of the Cambodian consulate.
She also told IPS that factory owners were “confrontational” vis-a-vis the unions. “Denying workers the right to freedom of assembly and the right to a living wage is unacceptable,” she said.
(…)

Tola Moeun, head of the advocacy organisation, Community Legal Education Centre, explained that factory owners have threatened labour leaders with lawsuits. “Yang Sophorn (president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions) was sued by suppliers (factory owners) for mobilising workers to strike,” he pointed out.

He highlighted another problem.
Despite 90 percent of garment workers being women, men tend to lead the labour unions, partly owing to the combative environment. “Women do not feel confident in their positions or are not provided enough opportunities to grow, especially due to their poor wages and short term contracts,” he told IPS.
read more.
IPS

* 28 complaints filed against protest union leaders:

28 complaints have been filed against labor union leaders who led and allegedly incited protests from December last year to January 5, 2014, said factory representative on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Government-Private Sector Forum, Nang Sothy, representative of working group of professional relations, said that the union leaders, who were sued, include Pav Sina, Ath Thon, Chea Mony, Mam Nhem, Yang Sophan and Rong Chhun.

He said the protests led by those union leaders caused property damages at the factories worth about USD75 million, urging the government to deal with establishment of unions in factories, and the court to launch investigation against those unionists.
read more.
CAMHERALD

* In Vietnam, ‘they don’t shoot their workers’; in Cambodia, they do:

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said Cambodia’s garment workers are paid a fair wage, comparing the new monthly wage of $100 to Vietnam’s. He suggests the unions are too demanding and that investors will flee.  However, a researcher points out Vietnam is in flux too.

“In Vietnam there have been all kinds of strikes over the past 10 years. Tens of thousands of workers have gone on strikes.  It’s a very active worker community,” said labor researcher Dennis Arnold.  Arnold has written several reports on the garment industry in Southeast Asia and recently advised a fact-finding mission looking into the deaths of four Cambodian garment workers, with an additional one missing and assumed dead and over 30 injured.  The report, titled A Day that Shook Cambodia, found that Cambodia’s military provoked protestors and that some of the military did double duty by working for Yakjin Factory where the crackdown took place, in addition to their regular job.

The government has alleged that the strikers were “extremists” but Arnold points out that strikes are common in Vietnam as well but are relatively unreported in the media compared to Cambodia.

“Unions [in Vietnam] mediate between the government and workers, they aren’t true representatives of workers’ interests,“ explained Arnold.  “Yet you see a lot of ‘wildcat’ [worker-led, technically illegal] strikes there.”

However, he said “they don’t shoot their workers.” If that were to happen, Vietnam’s socialist image would take a hit.  “But [Vietnam’s workers] are not yet seen as a political threat.”
read more.
asiancorres

* BetterFactories Media updates  5 March 2014, End right to unionize, businesses ask Hun Sen:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-05 Factory ignored direct order cops
2014-03-05 Like animal in a cage
2014-03-05 Park off limits; unions defiant
2014-03-05 PM slams CNRP incitement

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2014-03-05 City Hall denies unions permission for Freedom Park Forum
2014-03-05 CNRP looks for quieter plan of action as labor strike looms
2014-03-05 End right to unionize, businesses ask Hun Sen

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

* BetterFactories Media updates 3-4 March 2014, Workers ‘locked inside’ during overtime strike:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-03 A life forever changed
2014-03-03 Unions plan forum
2014-03-04 Workers ‘locked inside’ during overtime strike

* to read in the printed edition The Cambodia Daily:
2013-03-03 NGO declares Coca-Cola’s visit compromised by police

* to read in the printed edition Koh Santepheap Daily (Khmer):
2014-03-04 GMAC demands CLEC to clarify

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

$160

30140306

* Unions expect violence, but forum to go on:

Despite anticipating violence between unionists and authorities, labour union heads yesterday said they will go ahead with a public forum at Freedom Park on Saturday morning.

“I think we cannot avoid having a clash on Saturday, because [authorities] will not allow us to have our forum,” Pav Sina, president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers, said. “But what we are going to do is not wrong.”
Phnom Penh City Hall on Tuesday denied a request by 18 union federations to hold a public forum at Freedom Park on Saturday, an event that would coincide with International Women’s Day.

The union groups are continuing to demand the minimum garment wage be increased to $160 per month and 21 jailed activists and workers be freed from prison.

City Hall spokesman Long Dimanche on Tuesday declared Freedom Park off-limits, saying that the 30,000 people union federations expect could pose a threat to security.
“We’re concerned that police or military will block the road and make violence for our members,” Sun Lyhov, of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union (C.CAWDU), said.
read more.
PPP new

* ILO convention still debated:

The government has no intention of withdrawing its signature from the International Labour Organization’s freedom of association convention, despite calls for it to reconsider its position, a Ministry of Labour spokesman said yesterday.

“I don’t think we will withdraw. The prime minister [Hun Sen] has already said he will commit to freedom of association,” said the ministry’s Heng Sour. “To my understanding, the government has no intention to [withdraw].”

At the Government-Private Sector Forum on Tuesday, Nang Sothy, from the forum’s industrial relations group, called on Prime Minister Hun Sen to consider whether the ILO’s convention 87 was benefiting Cambodia, in the wake of union-led garment strikes in January in which security forces shot dead at least four workers and factories lost millions of dollars.
read more.
PPP new

* Support the Cambodian Garment Workers Struggle! Donate to their Strike Fund! :

Dear Asia Floor Wage Alliance Members, Endorsers, Supporters & Discussants:

Please support two very important struggles going on in Asia right now – in Cambodia and in Bangladesh

As you know Cambodian unions have been in an intense, long struggle since end of 2013 till now…. voicing their demand for a bare minimum wage of USD 160 per month.  Workers have lost their lives in police firing; union leaders have been arrested; and many continue to be in prison.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, 15,000 Cambodian workers will peacefully assemble in Freedom Park in Phnom Penh and ask the government and opposition to discuss the issue of wage.  If there is no result from the discussions, they will start a nationwide strike again on March 12.  Unions are seeking donations for transport, food and water – for a strike fund.  Please help and contact joel.p@clec.org.kh or AFW Southeast Asia Coordinator at asiafloorwage.sea@gmail.com
read more.
ASIAFLOORWAGE

* BetterFactories Media updates 6 March 2014, ILO convention still debated:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-06 Unions expect violence, but forum to go on
2014-03-06 ILO convention still debated

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

$160

30140307

* Garment unions: the call for women to represent women:

20140307 PPP Of-Cambodia’s-nearly-half-a-million-garment-workers,-90-per-cent-are-womenOf Cambodia’s nearly half a million garment workers, 90 per cent are women.
Photo by Heng Chivoan.

Of Cambodia’s nearly half a million garment workers, 90 per cent are women. Their unions have played a major role in Cambodian politics recently as their demand for a $160 monthly minimum wage has become a rallying cry for the opposition.

But those unions are dominated by men, creating a situation that one expert has termed “a woman’s movement under male leadership”.
Among the six major union federations, there is just one run entirely by women at the top level: the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia (NIFTUC), which has 25,000 members across 32 factories. Morn Nhim, a middle-aged former garment worker, is its president and founder.

She and other women who have risen to the top ranks agree that they are better equipped to respond to women’s unique needs, such as maternity leave, breastfeeding and sexual harassment.
“Women know each others’ problems, so we choose women to represent the workers,” she said in an interview at NIFTUC’s headquarters.

Nhim began her career in the garment sector in 1997 during the industry’s early years. Workers were far less organised than they are today, with the Cambodia Labour Organisation (CLO), a labour rights NGO which shut down in 2005, providing the bulk of support.

“There were no NGOs or unions like [today], but one of the NGO officers from CLO came to train the workers about the laws and the working conditions, and I saw that I should work for workers because there was too much pressure from the employers, and the workers appointed me to be a representative.”
read more.
PPP new

* Labor unions not allowed to hold public forum at Freedom Park:

Phnom Penh City Hall said that it didn’t allow a coalition of 18 labor unions and associations to hold a public forum at the Freedom Park on March 8.

In a letter issued Thursday, Phnom Penh deputy governor Khuong Sreng asked the union leaders to hold the public forum at their offices.
“Phnom Penh City Hall didn’t allow them to hold public forum because the Cambodian People’s Party and Cambodia National Rescue Party’ talks on election reforms are underway,” the statement said.
However, the leaders of the coalition of labor unions and associations still maintained their stance to hold the forum scheduled for March 8 – International Women’s Rights Day.
The forum is expected to draw around 30,000 participants as well as speakers from labor unions, government and the opposition to raise questions over the suppression, arrest of workers and wage demands.
to read .
CAMHERALD

* Security Forces Hold Drills Ahead of Saturday’s Union Forum:

Some 2,000 police officers in full riot gear carried out demonstration-suppression drills at Olympic Stadium on Thursday, ahead of a scheduled forum hosted by labor unions at Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park on Saturday.

The U.N. special rapporteur to Cambodia, Surya Subedi, also released a statement Thursday welcoming Mr. Hun Sen’s touted lifting of the ban on the constitutional right to free assembly, despite a number of public gatherings having since been violently quashed this week and other rallies denied permission.

“I was pleased to learn that, in a speech delivered on 25 February, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that the ban would be lifted,” Mr. Subedi said in the statement.

Despite the Prime Minister’s announcement and the Ministry of Interior conceding that his statement trumped its ban on public gatherings, the unions who plan to gather at Freedom Park on Saturday have had their request to hold the forum rejected by City Hall.
read more.
Cambodia_Daily_logo

* Police drill ahead of forum:

On the same day 18 union federations made their final decision to move forward with a labour rights forum in Freedom Park on Saturday, thousands of police officials from several departments gathered in Olympic Stadium for a training session.

“Plans for a demonstration, such as the one on March 8, is nothing new for us; we have faced similar challenges many times already,” said Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito, who insisted yesterday’s training session was unrelated to the planned forum. “We train to strengthen our capacity.

On Saturday, union groups plan to gather at Freedom Park to both celebrate International Women’s Day and discuss pressing issues in the garment industry. Following last week’s boycott of overtime in which some garment workers took part, the forum is the last action before a planned stay-at-home strike, which is scheduled to begin on March 12 and last until at least March 19.

Discussion at the forum will focus heavily on garment workers’ demands for a minimum monthly wage of $160 and the release of 21 activists and workers jailed since January crackdowns.
read more.
PPP new

Cambodian anti-riot police conduct exercise in preparation for future protests:

The Phnom Penh Municipal Police held a special training at the capital’s Olympic Stadium on Thursday afternoon in preparation for any future demonstrations.

More than 2,000 policemen, armed with shields and batons, joined the half-day training, Gen. Chuon Sovann, chief of the Phnom Penh Municipal Police, said.
“It is usual for armed forces to get training in order to strengthen their abilities in maintaining security, safety and public order for the city,” he told reporters at the event.

He said the training had no aim to threaten the opposition or its aligned trade unions that have planned to hold rallies, but it aimed to protect safety and public order if any violence occurred during protests.
“The security forces will protect demonstrators if their demonstrations get permission from the government or the interior ministry,” he said. “But if demonstrations are illegal, protest leaders must be responsible for any incidents.”
read more.
GLOBALTIMES

* BetterFactories Media updates 7 March 2014, Union reps must prove clean criminal records:

* to read in the printed edition The Phnom Penh Post:
2014-03-07 Gov’t passes buck on faintings
2014-03-07 Police drill ahead of forum


* to read in the printed edition The  Cambodia Daily:
2014-03-07 Security forces hold drills ahead of Saturday’s union forum
2014-03-07 Union reps must prove clean criminal records

BetterFactories Media Updates Overview here.
BF NEW

* Cambodian riot police prepares to attack women’s march tomorrow:

This International Women’s Day, IndustriALL Global Union is mobilising support for Cambodian women garment workers, 30,000 of whom will defy government warnings to gather in Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park tomorrow, 8 March.

Government officials have explicitly warned IndustriALL affiliates not to mobilise the mass Forum on Labour Rights, and this morning released ominous photos in the local press of riot police in the Olympic Stadium preparing for an attack on the peaceful demonstration.

An elite military group under the leadership of the Prime Minister’s son is also gearing up for violence tomorrow. This group was responsible for the brutal attacks on IndustriALL member unions at the Sabrina factory last year that killed two unborn babies of striking workers.

IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary Monika Kemperle stated:
We are immensely concerned for the safety of our Cambodian sisters tomorrow, facing heavily armed government forces on International Women’s Day. But we are even more inspired and proud to stand with them in solidarity. Their campaign is for a minimum wage increase to US$160, trade union rights and the release of 21 activists jailed in the previous mobilisations around 5 January. IndustriALL affiliates will lead tomorrow’s demonstrations, and we remain in constant communication.

IndustriALL trade union affiliates are responding to the call for messages of solidarity to be sent to the Cambodian women worker leaders. One of the main organisers of tomorrow’s action is Mohn Nihm, President of trade union affiliate NIFTUC and Chairperson of the IndustriALL Women’s Committee in Cambodia. See the photo of this inspiring leader opposite. Prominent unions taking support action include IG Metall of Germany, UA Zensen of Japan, and the TCFUA of Australia.
The three IndustriALL affiliates central to tomorrow’s action are CCAWDU, NIFTUC and FTUWKC.

Next week, from 12 to at least 19 March, garment workers will carry out a stay-at-home strike action as the next step in the campaign for a decent increase to the minimum wage.
This follows last week’s boycott of overtime.
The government of Prime Minister Hun Sen has set up a special committee to conduct research and make recommendations on the wage increase.
But workers demand change now.
read more and take action: sign the petition!

* Cambodia bans public forum planned by opposition-aligned trade unions on Women’s Day:

Cambodian authorities have refused to give permission to the opposition-aligned trade unions and associations to hold a public forum at the capital’s Freedom Park on Saturday.

“The Phnom Penh Municipality does not allow the 18 trade unions and associations to hold the public forum on March 8 at the Freedom Park or other public places because this forum’s purpose has mixed with political characteristics,” said a letter signed by Phnom Penh Vice-Governor Khuong Sreng and sent to those trade unions and associations late Thursday.

“In the meantime, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have subsequently met and discussed electoral reforms, so the ban is to give time to the two political parties to continue their negotiations in a better atmosphere, especially to avoid affecting security, safety and public order for the people,” the letter said.
read more.
CHINAORG

20140101 $160

$160

For More See PART 3

 

map of Asia

An overview of articles 7 February 2014-7 March 2014

HEADLINES

20140207
* Free the 23 and give workers a living minimum wage of USD$160 a month
* Release the 23 Gathering
* Another round of religious prayers to release the 23 detainees
* Two among the 23 to be freed prior to bail hearing
* Cambodian court releases 2 of 23 detained protesters
* Labor union leaders discuss protest plan
* Union leaders delay protest
* Poverty Wages Unraveling Cambodia’s Garment Industry
* Threat of ‘mass strike’ looms
* Unions to March After Failure to Address Minimum Wage
* Garment workers to receive USD 100 per month from February

20140208-09
* Two of 23 Jailed Protesters Granted Bail; Release Date Unknown
* Free the 23!
* The 23 men detained in Correctional Centre 3 and Kampong Cham Prison, Kampong Cham Province
* National, International unions to hold joint campaign for release of 23 protesters
* When Freedom Meets Oppression: Timeline of Recent Events

20140210
* Day before appeal: Groups take to the streets
* Bailed Garment Workers Speak of Injustice Ahead of March
* Supporters of 21 to march to embassies
* Court under pressure to free 23 protesters in jail
* On Global Day of Action, Cambodians Release Balloons to Sky in Solidarity with 23 Arrestees
* Global day of action to #FreeThe23 garment workers
* PH workers press for release of 23 Cambodian workers
* Cambodian opposition-aligned union activists pray for release of 21 detained protesters
* Cambodia: Free Activists; Revoke Assembly Ban

20140211
* Bail denied for 21 detainees
* Appeal Court denies freedom for rights defenders and workers
* Court of Appeal holds bail hearing for 21 detained protesters
* Unions Threaten Nationwide Strike if 21 Prisoners Not Released
* Demos for 21 allowed
* Unions Trying To Regain Momentum…
* Unions, opposition ‘hindering wage talks’
* Ministry of Labor Highlights Triumphs in 2013 Annual Report
* US brands need to step up for human rights in Cambodia

* Today’s Bail Denial For 21 Human Rights Defenders And Protesters Illustrates The Deteriorating Human Rights Situation In Cambodia
* ADHOC Condemns Court’s Decision Not to Release Detained Human Rights Defenders, Activists and Workers
* Fate of teen still a mystery
* Dismay over bail rejection
* News flash: 21 Cambodians refused bail
* BetterFactories Media updates 1-11 February 2014, Unions threaten nationwide strike if 21 prisoners not released

20140212
* Freedom denied for 21
* Dismay over bail rejection
* Appeal Court Denies Bail to 21 Jailed Protesters
* Detainees not being used for leverage: Yeap
* NO BAIL!!!
* Bail refused for 21 workers and human rights defenders
* Anger as 21 Cambodian activists are denied bail
* Cambodian protesters denied bail despite global concern
* Australia Urged To Push Cambodia Over Garment Worker Crackdown
* Gov’t-aligned union’s strike quietly ended
* Labor Ministry Ignored Its Own Research on Minimum Wage

* Cambodia: Bail Denied to Imprisoned Unionists
* Cambodian Embassies besieged – Free the 21!
* Cambodian court rules against bail for protesters
* Cambodian opposition-aligned trade unions warn to stage mass strike next month

20140213
* Strike strategy shifts
* Unions Plan 2nd Round of Mass Strikes
* Labor unions warn of nationwide strike next month

20140214
* From Cambodia’s prisons, workers’ voices are still being heard
* Brands set for gov’t sit-down
* Government Sets Deadline for Trade Union Law
* During ‘Free the 23’ Protests, Where Was CNRP?
* Garment unions regroup, plan peaceful strike in March

20140216
* Authority warns as unionists ready to convince 100, 000 workers to join nationwide strike

20140217
* Garment Workers See Renewed Appeal in Strike
* Detainee speaks out online
* Global unions and brands to meet with Cambodian government

20140219
* Cambodia discusses garment issues with buyers from global brands
* Protests, Strikes Continue in Cambodia

20140220
* Brands, gov’t, unions meet on the issues
* Brands Meet With Gov’t Over Labor Unrest
* Global unions and brands meet with Cambodian government
* Cambodia – tentative steps towards constructive dialogue
* BetterFactories Media updates 18-20 February 2014, 2014-02-20 Brands, gov’t, unions meet on the issues

20140221
* GMAC warns of factory closures if unionists insist on $160 per month
* Hun Sen Adds Armed Forces Chiefs to Strike Committee
* Made in Cambodia: A Multi-Fiber Thread of Tears

20140222
* Gov’t Criticizes Media Coverage of Strike Violence

20140223
* Labor union asks workers not to go on strike

20140224
* Overtime strike set to begin
* Unions Set to Begin First Phase of Nationwide Strike
* Unions begin campaign to call on workers to boycott working overtime

20140225
* Overtime boycott under way
* Garment Workers Begin Boycott of Overtime
* Hun Sen lifts protest ban

20140226
* Demonstrators Demand Release of 21 Detainees
* Workers in 200 factories boycott overtime work
* Strike Justified, Suppression Not, Experts Say
* Boycott a tough call for many
* As Workers Boycott Overtime, CPP Goes on Counteroffensive
* Hun Sen warns strikes will lead to factory closures
* Cambodian PM holds opposition-backed unions responsible for future factory closures due to strikes
* We can protest, too: PM
* Made in Cambodia: Garment Workers Fight Gap, H&M and Others for a Minimum Wage
* Cambodian garment workers take new approach to strikes

20140227
* Scores of factories ‘set to sue’ over strike
* As Garment Sector Strikes Loom, Soldiers Watch Over Factories
* Gov’t Suspends Freedom of Association for Unions
* Keeping the Heat on Cambodia

20140228
* Free the 23: meet the global campaigners supporting Cambodia’s garment workers
* In Vietnam, ‘they don’t shoot their workers’; in Cambodia, they do
* Leaflet arrests questioned
* Union Representatives Detained for Distributing Strike Leaflets
* Labor Ministry Denies It Has Stopped Recognizing Unions

* Cambodian government must urgently restart dialogue with unions

20140303
* Gatherings continue for justice and release
* Unions plan forum
* Cambodian workers to be “hardest hit victims” if minority unions still plan strikes: GMAC
* A life forever changed

20140304
* Daun Penh Guards Seize Protest Drum, Scuffle With Activists
* Workers ‘locked inside’ during overtime strike

20140305
* ‘Like animals in a cage’
* Park off limits; unions defiant
* City Hall Denies Unions Permission for Freedom Park Forum
* CNRP Looks for Quieter Plan of Action as Labor Strike Looms
* Factory ignored direct order: cops
* End Right to Unionize, Businesses Ask Hun Sen
* PM slams CNRP ‘incitement’
* Cambodian PM says no more tolerance for illegal protests
* Hun Sen says wage hikes should be linked to increased productivity
* Labour Anger Simmers in Cambodia
* 28 complaints filed against protest union leaders
* In Vietnam, ‘they don’t shoot their workers’; in Cambodia, they do
* BetterFactories Media updates 5 March 2014,
* BetterFactories Media updates 3-4 March 2014

20140306
* Unions expect violence, but forum to go on
* ILO convention still debated
* Support the Cambodian Garment Workers Struggle! Donate to their Strike Fund!
* BetterFactories Media updates 6 March 2014

20140307
* Garment unions: the call for women to represent women
* Labor unions not allowed to hold public forum at Freedom Park
* Security Forces Hold Drills Ahead of Saturday’s Union Forum
* Police drill ahead of forum
* Cambodian anti-riot police conduct exercise in preparation for future protests
* BetterFactories Media updates 7 March 2014, Union reps must prove clean criminal records
* Cambodian riot police prepares to attack women’s march tomorrow
* Cambodia bans public forum planned by opposition-aligned trade unions on Women’s Day

latest tweets (& news)

Convention on the Rights of the Child
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

I wonder who they are
The men who really run this land
And I wonder why they run it
With such a thoughtless hand

What are their names
And on what streets do they live
I'd like to ride right over
This afternoon and give
Them a piece of my mind
About peace for mankind
Peace is not an awful lot to ask
    David Crosby

I wonder who they are
The people who are buying these clothes
I'd like to know what they've paid for it
How much the makers have paid for this
Fairer income is not an awful lot to ask
Better working conditions is not an awful lot to ask
    A. Searcher

For more and other (labour) news you can follow on twitter: @asearcher2