More than 50 organisations advocating for workers’ rights shared a joint letter last week (20 July) petitioning Nike to compensate the 1,284 garment workers from Cambodia’s former Violet Apparel factory, which closed in 2020.
The letter suggests the mainly female and long-serving workforce had suffered significant hardship due to the inaction of Ramatex and the failure of NIKE and other Ramatex buyers to address rights abuses.
Meanwhile a report published by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) last month estimates the Ramatex Group, which terminated the garment workers in June 2020, owes them about $1.4m in total on the basis of a problematic decision by Cambodia’s Arbitration Council.
It explains factory management informed the workers of their dismissal with less than 24 hours’ notice.
The report outlines the failure of Ramatex Group to pay “terminal benefits” accompanied by testimony from factory workers and photographs taken inside the facility before its closure.
The Human Rights Watch suggests the Ramatex Group dismissed workers’ claims, citing a letter from Cambodia’s labour ministry which read: “Those parts of the labour law that require employers to pay ‘compensation in lieu of prior notice’ would not have to be implemented.”
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The organisation states the labour ministry’s argument is “legally flawed” and if implemented in Cambodia, it would act as a loophole for foreign and domestic companies and government ministries to “pick and choose” which legal provisions to abide by.
Nike did not respond to Just Style’s request for a comment and the Ramatex group was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.
It alleged that since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, garment workers in Nike’s supply chain have experienced layoffs and terminations, arbitrary pay cuts, unpaid wages for hours worked, and gender discrimination at an unprecedented scale.