Cambodia: Levi's, H&M and Gap back an Arbitration Council's ruling that restricts the use of short-term contracts for garment workers

Author: Matt Blomberg, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Published on: 4 June 2019

"Exclusive: Boost for Cambodian workers as top fashion brands back contract ruling", 4 June 2019

… Levi’s, H&M and Gap Inc. have backed a ruling that restricts the use of short-term contracts for garment workers in Cambodia, where critics say they are widely used to control staff and silence dissent. The companies behind the three global fashion brands said they stood by an arbitration council’s ruling that a factory supplying them must give permanent contracts to 408 workers it employed on a short-term basis…

“We have made it clear that the factory must comply with the Arbitration Council ruling,” H&M spokeswoman Ulrika Isaksson told ...

The factory’s owner, Taiwan-based Roo Hsing Garment Co. Ltd, did not respond to a request for comment… That is good news for Soeun Sophos, one of the 408 claimants in the case, who is pregnant with her first child…

In a survey of 464 factories, more than two-thirds of workers said bosses were illegally using short-term contracts, according to Better Factories Cambodia, a monitoring group overseen by the International Labour Organization.

… Gap did not directly address the Roo Hsing dispute, but said it stood by the arbitrators’ decisions. “We have communicated to all our suppliers in Cambodia our expectations that vendors adhere to rulings made by the Labour Arbitration Council,” spokeswoman Debbie Felix said.

Levi’s would take punitive action should the factory backtrack on a commitment to accept the ruling, spokesman Phil Zabriskie said. “Roo Hsing has agreed to implement the ruling, pending additional clarification which is expected soon,” he said.

…“Threats of contract non-renewal are used to force workers into working regular overtime, meeting excessive production targets and from engaging in independent trade unionism,” said Moeun Tola, executive director of the Center for the Alliance of Labor and Human Rights…

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Related companies: Gap Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia H&M Levi Strauss Roo Hsing Garment