By Mu Sochua
I write in response to the unethical remarks made by the leadership of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) reported in your article published on Tuesday “Garment Strike Cost Industry $200 Million, GMAC Says.”
For days, local and foreign newspapers showed video clips and images on social media of the armed military police used to crack down on the striking workers. From blood-stained clothes to injured workers begging for mercy, the obvious and undeniable fact is the way the crackdown was conducted. With AK-47 assault rifles in hands, the aim was not just to disperse a crowd but it was clearly aiming to kill.
Five workers were killed and close to 30 others were wounded on January 3 during the heavy confrontation at the Canadia Industrial Zone. The leadership of GMAC called it “collateral damage” and described the use of lethal weapons by the military police as “absolutely” appropriate.
Such an attitude towards the lives of our workers should be condemned. Nothing can justify brutality and loss of life. The business community in Cambodia should send a clear message to GMAC that consumers do not want to wear garments tainted with the blood of workers who ask for nothing more than living wage.
H&M, one of the biggest buyers of garments from Cambodia has pledged to pay living wage to workers. This positive solution will require cutting down some of the profit margin so there is a fair share.
H&M said: “We believe that the wage development in production countries, which is often driven by governments, is taking too long.”
H&M wants to take further action and encourage the whole industry to follow. H&M plans to deal directly with its suppliers and it said paying more to factories that adopt a living wage would not push up the price of its goods.
This is a step in the right direction and we call on H&M to put its pledge into immediate action.
Mu Sochua, lawmaker-elect, Cambodia National Rescue Party
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