Blog: Leonie BarrieA troubled start for Cambodia

Leonie Barrie | 6 January 2014

2014 has got off to a troubled start in Cambodia, where protests over a new minimum wage for garment workers have been turning increasingly violent.

The dispute over pay has been running for nearly two weeks, and has not only led to a virtual shutdown of the country's garment industry, but the death of at least four protestors.

The unrest followed a decision to raise the minimum wage for textile, garment and footwear factory workers to US$160 per month over the next five years. Trade unions, however, want the level to be raised immediately.

But a compensation fund has finally been created for victims of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh eight months ago. An estimated $40m is expected to be delivered to those caught up in the disaster - although contributions are still being sought to bring it up to this level.

Tests carried out in Germany on jackets and gloves sold by outdoor clothing brands including The North Face, Jack Wolfskin, Patagonia and Adidas have found the presence of chemicals that are hazardous to the environment and can pose long-term risks to human health.

And an annual update of US apparel industry trends might use data that is more than a year old, but still offers an interesting snapshot of the state of play in the US textile and apparel trade, from domestic production trends to import costs.

Pakistan's accession to the EU's GSP+ trade programme has been well documented, but is just one of many changes to the revised Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) that came into place on 1 January 2014. We re-cap on some of the key issues that will affect the clothing and textile industry.

And first results of Christmas trading at UK retailers has put Next and House of Fraser firmly among the winners; while Debenhams has disappointed, parting company with its CFO after issuing a post-Christmas profit warning.

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