By Diana Karakos, Intern, International Labor Rights Forum
Something amazing has happened this week. One of the most exciting examples of workers standing together for the betterment of all 300,000 garment factory workers in Cambodia is incredible and one for the history books. On Monday, September 13, 60,000 of Cambodia’s garment industry workers went on strike demanding a raise and by the third day about 190,000 workers were on strike. They are led by Ath Thorn, the President of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) one of the key union partners of ILRF in Cambodia. The minimum wage was raised from $50 per month to $61 per month. However, the workers are demanding that it be raised to $93 per month as $61 per month is not enough for a living wage. You can draw parallels to this situation as what we have writing about in Bangladesh where the government raised the minimum wage but yet it wasn’t anywhere near a wage that would meet basic needs.
25 year old Chheng Chanvy explains, “We don’t get a salary. We are paid by the quality of the work, so we earn around $50 to $90 a month. This is not enough. My family spends almost all of that on water and electricity bills.” Chanvy is employed by the Chinese company, San Lei Fung Garment & Woolen knitting Factory Ltd. This factory supplies top buyers such as Jones New York, Nine West, Evan Picone, and Ralph Lauren.