Clothing brands and retailers have expressed their “great concern” at the unrest

Clothing brands and retailers have expressed their “great concern” at the unrest

Attempts to resolve an ongoing pay dispute in Cambodia seem to be making slow progress after a meeting yesterday (27 September) between government officials and manufacturer and worker representatives ended without reaching an agreement.

“There were no negotiations at yesterday’s meeting,” Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers' Association in Cambodia (GMAC), told just-style today. He said both sides have until Wednesday to submit a list of five representatives who will sit on a new negotiating committee.

While a date for the next meeting has not yet been set, local government officials are calling on all sides to prepare for peaceful negotiations to find a “win-win” solution for both factory owners and workers.

In addition, Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng has called for trade union leaders and workers to be reinstated in their jobs after taking part in a four-day mass strike over pay earlier this month. He also urged an end to all strike action in the run-up to the next round of talks.

“We reiterated our position that we reserve the right to take legal action against the unions that led the strikes on 13-16 September as we feel it was an illegal strike,” Mr Ken Loo told just-style. “For the unions who feel it was legal, they can defend themselves in the courts and we will respect the decisions of the courts.”

But he admitted he was also worried about union threats to resume the strikes if employers continue with their legal action.

The mass walk-out by an estimated 200,000 workers earlier this month was prompted by a decision to raise the minimum wage from $50 to $61 a month - which is less than the US$93 demanded by workers and unions.

Clothing brands and retailers including Adidas, Gap, H&M and Levi's have written a letter to GMAC and the unions to express their “great concern” at the unrest.