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Article

19 Dec 2018

Author:
Matt Blomberg, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Cambodia: Garment workers urge H&M to deliver living wage after the Fair Living Wage Summit in Phnom Penh

"Stitched up? Fashion workers urge H&M to deliver living wage", 18 December 2018

In an industry riddled with poor health, abuse and labour exploitation, Yim Srey Neang and her colleagues are pleased to have garment factory jobs that are relatively stable and safe… But when conversation turns to the so-called "fair living wage," the tone shifts: several factory workers begin firing off laundry lists of life's necessities - food, shelter, education, health care - and their prices in an onslaught of discontent. "No, it's not fair," Srey Neang said on a tour of the factory organised by H&M, …

"Our salary does not allow us to save money - it's barely enough to live." 

…, H&M pledged to overhaul its supply chain, … While wages are rising on factory floors worldwide, David Savman, H&M's global head of production, said that the number of factory workers receiving a living wage remained at "zero."…

Five years on, at their "Fair Living Wage Summit" in Phnom Penh …, H&M reported that it had exceeded targets for workers who had been educated on how to earn more and for employees who could elect their representatives…

Cambodia's garment industry has been overhauled in recent years - with the monthly minimum wage set to rise to $182 next year from $61 in 2012.

Yet a survey of 41 garment workers by the Center for the Alliance of Labor and Human Rights found that while the average wage was significantly higher than the minimum, workers were still earning less than $1 an hour - and living month-to-month. Moeun Tola, the charity's executive director, called for major brands to stop making excuses and improve workers' pay…

William Conklin, Cambodia country head for the Solidarity Center, …, said that while H&M deserved credit above other brands who were "doing nothing," it now had the chance to be a "trend-setter."…

The Asia Floor Wage Alliance, …, has marked $480 as a fair monthly living wage in Cambodia, while a group of Cambodian unions have called for a $225 minimum wage from 2019…