garment workers

Calls to stop a government crackdown on trade unionists and garment workers in Bangladesh have paid off as the 35 activists who were arrested in a series of December raids have been released.

However, major problems remain in the country’s garment industry as the government neglects to fully comply with its labour and human rights commitments.

According to Tailored Wages Report — Are the Big Brands Paying the People Who Make Our Clothes Enough to Live On? published by the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Asia Floor Wage Alliance on March 2014, only four of 50 big brand multinational clothing and footwear companies contacted were able to demonstrate they had taken any steps that might lead to improved wages for the Cambodian workers who make many of their expensive fashion products.

I was deeply saddened to read the article by Anne Elizabeth Moore titled “What’s the Price of Workers’ Lives in Cambodia?” published on January 17 in the US-based Truth-out.org website.

This story contained an outrageous attack on the Cambodian garment workers demonstration over the minimum wage by a well-known Cambodian blogger, academic and human rights activist Sopheap Chak.

An estimated 700,000 Cambodian garment, accessories and footwear workers (90% of whom are women) are among the lowest paid in this globalised industry. They produce fashionable products sold at high prices in the West under big brand names like Gap, Walmart, H&M, Puma, Nike, Adidas, Columbia and Levi Strauss. Major Australian retailers that source garments from Cambodia include Coles, Kmart, Target, Big W and Pacific Brands.

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