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28 Sep 2020

Luke Hunt, VOA Khmer

Cambodia: 450 garment factories suspend their operations affecting over 150,000 workers due to COVID-19 & EU's EBA withdrawal

"Cambodian Garment Workers Struggle After EU Withdraws Trade Perks", 25 September 2020

The Cambodian government is shoring up its finances as the withdrawal of some European Union trade preferences leaves its mark on an economy already struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic and an exodus of Western businesses.

The hardest hit is the $7 billion garment, textiles, and footwear industry, where about 700,000 workers earn a basic $190 a month, including $7 for transportation and rent, producing for big-name brands such as Levi's Strauss, H&M, and Adidas, six days a week…

Phen Kosal, who has worked at Hung Wah Cambodia garment factory producing clothing for export for the last six years, says the EBA partial withdrawal was having a dreadful impact on her work prospects amid layoffs, loss of overtime, and reduced hours…

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia data shows that 450 garment and footwear factories in Cambodia had suspended work, while 83 factories closed in the first half of this year, affecting about 150,000 workers.

GMAC Secretary-General Ken Loo said the EU had erred by withdrawing those preferences …, amid the COVID -19 pandemic, which has had a much greater impact on the Cambodian economy…

While brands, however, can move to another country, as many Western expat businessmen and NGOs did after the elections, their workers cannot.

“I think this issue is going to make for some job losses for the worker if we don’t have the orders or if the brand does not stay in the country,” said Athit Kong, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union…