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30 Apr 2020

Sineat Yon, DW

Cambodia: Over 130 garment factories suspend their operation & lay off around 100,000 workers; workers raise concerns over livelihoods & lack of support from brands

"Coronavirus brings trouble to Cambodia's garment industry", 30 April 2020

Hundreds of garment factories in Cambodia and elsewhere in Asia are facing serious financial problems because clothing brands have either canceled their orders or stopped placing new ones over the past several weeks. The brands say they have no other option, because the demand for clothes has decreased significantly now that many stores in the West are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.    

In Cambodia alone up to 130 factories have asked the country's Labor Ministry for permission to suspend their operations entirely or partly. With about 750,000 workers, the garment industry is the biggest employer in the Southeast Asian nation. Around 100,000 Cambodian workers have recently lost their jobs, either permanently or temporarily…

Chhouk Sarann, 26, is one of the many newly unemployed Cambodians. She got fired from her job … after she defied a travel ban that was implemented by the government to stop the spread of COVID-19. "When I got back to the factory a few days later, I was told that I should resign. When I didn't do that, they told me that I'm no longer employed at the factory," Sarann told…

Khun Tharo, a program coordinator at the Center for Alliance of Labor and Human Rights (CENTRAL), said there are "serious questions over the long-term financial viability of some factories."…

Following fierce criticism, some of these brands recently announced that they are working to find a solution for the factories and their workers. The mass cancelations of orders hit not only Cambodian factories, but also those elsewhere in Asia…