IndustriALL Global Union, UNI Global Union and the ITUC are garnering international support in solidarity for protestors who were arrested during demonstrations by garment workers for higher wages last month. The call to action to “Free the 23” comes on the eve of a Cambodian court hearing for the workers on 11 February.
The detainees, who include trade union activists and garment workers, were incarcerated after peaceful rallies on 2 and 3 of January and were met with brutal force by Cambodian police, which opened fire on demonstrators leaving four people dead and 39 injured.
Unions are being asked to demonstrate outside Cambodian embassies and present a letter to the ambassador condemning the violence against the garment workers and demanding the release of the 23 workers. The letter also calls on the government to respect the right to freedom of association.
It follows an open letter to the Cambodian Prime Minister, Han Sen, from IndustriALL, UNI and ITUC together with 30 of the world’s major clothing brands, including Walmart, Nike and H&M, demanding a thorough investigation into the perpetrators of the killings and appealing to the government to honour its commitment to establish a fair and inclusive process for determining a new minimum wage.
The Cambodian government has so far been unresponsive while the garment manufacturers’ association GMAC has taken a hostile and confrontational approach to union demands.
The past few months have seen a succession of strikes by Cambodian garment workers seeking to double the industry’s minimum wage to US $160 a month. Cambodia has more than 500,000 garment workers with textiles making up 80% of the country’s exports. The country’s low wages and government incentives for businesses have seen a boom in the textile industry worth some 5 billion US dollars per year, while living standards for workers have not increased.
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Join the petition to support Cambodian garment workers: http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=2129