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Nike asks gov’t for Sabrina inquiry

Workers strike in front of the Sabrina garment factory in Kampong Speu province in May.  HENG CHIVOAN
Workers strike in front of the Sabrina garment factory in Kampong Speu province in May. HENG CHIVOAN

Nike asks gov’t for Sabrina inquiry

IN the days after police violence allegedly caused two pregnant women to miscarry during a strike at Sabrina garment factory, footwear giant Nike urged the government to launch an independent inquiry into the incident, letters obtained yesterday reveal.

Sent on May 30 to Labour Minister Vong Sauth and Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh, the two identical letters express buyer Nike’s “deepest concerns with the treatment of workers” injured when confronted by police.

“Nike respectfully requests that the Cambodian government open an inquiry using credible, independent third parties to determine the cause of the incident,” state the letters, signed by Hannah Jones, Nike’s vice president of sustainable business and innovation. “In addition, we urge the Cambodian government to consider the appropriate support for the injured workers.”

At least 50 people, including nine police officers, were injured during strikes at the factory starting in May that involved about 3,000 workers. Eight Free Trade Unions members were arrested on June 3, accused of inciting violence.
Oum Mean, secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, declined to comment yesterday, while Prasidh could not be reached.

In a separate letter dated last Tuesday and obtained yesterday, Cambodia’s Free Trade Union pressed Nike to help secure the eight workers’ freedom.

“As you know, Nike’s own Code of Conduct requires contract manufacturers to respect their employees’ rights to freedom of association,” states the letter, signed by president Chea Mony. “[FTU] requests Nike to enforce this Code of Conduct within its supply factories.”

Separately, the Community Legal Education Center issued a statement on Friday saying sportswear brand Puma has a responsibility to speak up over the case against former Bavet town governor Chhouk Bandith, who is accused of shooting three garment workers at a Puma supplier last year.

CLEC says it is concerned that despite witnesses saying they saw Bandith shoot the women, corruption in the court could hinder justice. A verdict is due tomorrow.

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