Nearly a week after Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report detailing systemic labour rights abuse in Cambodia’s garment sector, the country’s garment manufacturers association fired back, criticising the study’s methodology and alleged omissions.
On its Facebook page, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) posted a statement yesterday saying that HRW’s report included interviews with just a small sample of the Kingdom’s garment workers. The group also takes issue with the NGO’s failure to mention allegedly disruptive and unlawful conduct by labour union officials.
“As described in the [HRW report’s] methodology, the research team interviewed only 270 workers – equivalent to only 0.038 per cent of the 700,000 workers in our industry,” GMAC’s statement reads.
Decrying what GMAC called a failure of HRW to use a more even-handed approach in its report’s recommendations, their statement says union officials should have been advised to conduct themselves in accordance with the law.
“Wildcat strikes, staged in direct violation of the procedures set out in the labour law, have plagued the industry and continue to impact on the basic rights of workers who want to work,” the statement says.
Aruna Kashyap, HRW’s senior researcher for the organisation’s Women’s Rights Division yesterday defended the report’s methodology, pointing out that data was gleaned from an array of sources beyond interviews with workers. Statistics from the International Labour Organization (ILO) and its Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) program, both of which work in conjunction with GMAC and the government, were also used, she said via email.
“Our report was based on in-depth consultations with a number of people, including workers. We have also cited ILO and BFC report data wherever these were available to show prevalence,” Kashyap wrote. “We invite GMAC to read the report more carefully.”