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7 Apr 2020

Khy Sovuthy, CamboJa

Cambodia: Garment factories struggle to pay workers' wages due to lack of orders as Covid-19 pandemic causes more factory closures

"Garment factories flag money issues as workers go without pay", 6 April 2020

Cambodia’s garment and footwear factories say they might not be able to continue paying workers even reduced wages beyond this year’s Khmer New Year, as foreign orders for clothing dry up amid the global coronavirus crisis.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia deputy secretary general Kaing Monika said that owners of factories with suspended production had complied with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s directive to continue paying workers 40 percent of the $190 monthly minimum wage but may soon struggle to stay solvent…

Monika said some factory owners believed they would not even be able to cover those reduced costs after the … Khmer New Year, when most Cambodians typically travel back to their hometowns for mass celebrations…

Union leaders said they were sympathetic but also skeptical about the request.

Ath Thorn, president of Cambodian Labour Confederation (CLC) said he and other union leaders had heard about the concerns of the owners during two separate meetings with GMAC representatives and Labor Ministry officials…

“According to the meeting, there were six buyers — including H&M, Adidas, Inditex, VF, Mark and Spencer and Zara — that are still ordering and buying products from the garment and footwear factories in Cambodia,” Thorn said.

… Labor Ministry spokesman Heng Sour declined to comment directly on the proposal and said only that the government was doing what it could by paying 20 percent of the monthly salaries of furloughed workers — a figure of $38…

… Among those not complying, he said, were the Dignity Knitter and Eco Base factories in Takhmao City, where more than 1,000 workers are without pay…