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4 Aug 2021

BHRRC & 31 other CSOs

Cambodia: 32 trade unions & labour rights groups demand international buyers to address workers' wage losses & improper payment of severance during COVID-19 and efficacy of Arbitration Council

"Joint Letter of Demands to Brands", 4 August 2021

We ... write to raise our grave concerns regarding a number of violations of fundamental rights facing our members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wage theft during the pandemic

Since the pandemic began, hundreds of factories in Cambodia... have suspended employment or permanently closed owing to a lack of orders... Research conducted by our unions in conjunction with Clean Clothes Campaign has found a total wage gap exceeding USD$117 million for the period of this lockdown...

Improper payment of severance upon factory closure (compensation in lieu of prior notice and employment seniority indemnities)

In addition to suspension and lockdowns, a large number of factories have shut down during the pandemic resulting in job losses for tens of thousands of workers...

The Arbitration Council’s refusal to make a decision in the case leaves workers’ only recourse with the courts, which are routinely criticised internationally for their inefficiency and lack of impartiality...

... we ... seek to your reply to the following questions;

  1. What steps will take or has taken to ensure that workers in its Cambodian supply chain are compensated for wage loss suffered in periods of employment suspension and lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  2. What steps will you take or has taken to ensure that workers at are paid severance calculated according to the provisions of Cambodian Labour Law?

In addition, we ask what steps will you take or has taken to ensure that the Arbitration Council is able to effectively and freely fulfil its roles and functions?