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16 Jul 2021

Khy Sovuthy, CamboJA

Cambodia: Garment workers lose an estimated $109 million in wages during the COVID-19 lockdowns

"Cambodian garment workers lost about $109 million in wages during the pandemic lockdowns: report", 16 July 2021

Cambodian garment workers lost an estimated $109 million in wages during the pandemic lockdowns …, according to calculations by Cambodian trade unions and the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Zurich-based labor rights group Public Eye termed the losses “wage theft” noting in a statement that some of the biggest brands continued to pull in hundreds of millions of dollars in profit even as workers were deprived of pay.

“Unions and activists call on international brands to pay workers’ full wages throughout the duration of the pandemic and sign an enforceable agreement to prevent future pay theft,” Public Eye said…

While the report highlights Cambodia’s biggest brands, including VF, Target, Nike and Gap, it noted that Adidas is “linked to the largest wage theft in the factory sample: the losses inflicted on 30,190 workers across eight Adidas supplier factories since the beginning of the pandemic adds up to $11.7 million, or $387 per worker.” During the first quarter of 2021, Adidas earned $650 million in profits, said the report.

… In response, “several brands have played down their individual responsibility to ensure proper payment to all workers in their supply chain…”

… Khun Tharo, a program coordinator at labor rights group CENTRAL, echoed Sina’s call, saying brands should do more to ensure factories are following labor guidelines and should set aside funds to pay those who aren’t allowed to work during pandemic lockdowns…

… Van Sou Ieng, president of Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, said it was unrealistic to ask brands to pay wages when factories are closed during the pandemic as they face their own difficulties…