Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Manufacturers contest garment buyers’ labour rights complaint

Manufacturers contest garment buyers’ labour rights complaint

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Garment workers stitch clothes in a factory. The Kingdom has three union confederations with over 500,000 members affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation. POST STAFF

Manufacturers contest garment buyers’ labour rights complaint

The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) on Thursday said the letter written by apparel brands and labour rights organisations addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen reflected a “flawed analysis” of the Kingdom’s situation.

The letter, it said, could bring to reality, the potential loss of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme and the US’ Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

GMAC’s response came after more than 20 brands and associations last week wrote a letter calling on Hun Sen to amend the Trade Union Law, repeal the law on associations and NGOs, drop all outstanding criminal charges against union leaders and respect and foster the important role of the Arbitration Council.

The association said they respected the right of any interested party to express their views on government issues, noting that it had also expressed its views.

In a press release, the GMAC said: “We are, however, concerned that the letter dated January 22, which follows similar letters issued in May 2019 and November 2018, was done without any prior consultation with us.

“It reflects an unbalanced representation that puts at risk the 750,000 workers in Cambodia that rely on our sector for livelihood.

“We worry that the points mentioned in the letter reflect a flawed analysis that advances a narrative about our sectors, which increases the risk of the very loss of EBA and GSP benefits – something the letter allegedly intends the Cambodian government to avoid.”

The GMAC called the letter disappointing and counterfactual. Cambodia, it said, is a prime example of the success of trade unionism in developing countries.

The Kingdom has three union confederations with over 500,000 members affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation. In comparison, Myanmar has only one affiliation with 10,000 members while Vietnam has none.

Cambodia also has 10 unions affiliated with IndustriALL Global Union, it said.

“This is a remarkable achievement of freedom of association. Indeed, the potential loss of EBA and GSP forecast in the letter because of a suggested ‘declining respect for freedom of association’ is in fact totally upside down.

“Regrettably, such a letter only presents a narrative that pushes at [the] risk [of] our workers and their families,” GMAC said.

Alexander Gibson, the communications manager with the American Apparel and Footwear Association, which is one of the NGOs that signed in the letter, told The Post on Tuesday that it was supposed to draw the attention of Hun Sen to specific international labour standards that were currently not being met due to domestic policies in Cambodia.

“These are issues that can only be addressed by the Cambodian government. Outside of these four issues, international brands can, and are, focused on raising standards at supplier factories both in Cambodia and around the world,” he claimed.


  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,

  • No word on state of emergency

    The National Assembly (NA) said it will postpone all unnecessary meetings in line with guidance from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) amid the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it did not say when or how it will debate the “state of emergency”

  • State of emergency draft law set for NA

    A draft law aiming to place the Kingdom in a state of emergency amid the Covid-19 pandemic is set for a debate at the National Assembly (NA) after going through the Council of Ministers’ Standing Committee meeting led by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday.

  • NA, Senate set for bill on ‘emergency’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested the Senate to convene an extraordinary meeting to review the draft law that aims to put the Kingdom in a state of emergency after the bill reached the National Assembly (NA) on Friday. The draft law, which was approved

  • Tourists can now prolong their stay

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said tourists holding Visa T and arriving in the Kingdom after January 1 will be allowed to prolong their stay until they are able to return home. The decision comes as Cambodia and most countries take measures to

  • Hun Sen, ministers, officials donate salaries in virus fight

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior government officials have decided to donate their salaries to the National Committee for Combating Covid-19 in support of the ongoing battle against the coronavirus. Hun Sen announced in an April 1 letter that because the Covid-19 situation in Cambodia