Cambodia: Over 1,200 garment workers protest over unpaid wages & benefits from factory producing for intl. brands; Incl. company responses
Over 1,200 garment workers have been protesting over unpaid wages and benefits from Violet Apparel (Cambodia) Co Ltd. in Cambodia, after the factory suspended its workers in May 2020, before ceasing operations on 1 July. Before its closure, Violet Apparel had a total of 1,284 workers. The workers are demanding compensation in lieu of prior notice, seniority indemnity, payment in place of unused annual leave and five days’ worth of unpaid wages during the Khmer New Year holidays in April. In July, the president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, Yang Sophorn, received a warning from the government due to her role in the protests. In September, workers submitted a petition with the EU delegation to Cambodia, seeking help to secure unpaid wages and benefits owed by Violet Apparel.
Violet Apparel reportedly produces for brands such as C&A, Nike and Carter's Inc.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited C&A, Nike and Carter's Inc. to respond. Carter's Inc. did not respond. C&A responded and said it had ended the relationship with the supplier in July 2019. Nike responded and said it had ended their relationships with the supplier in 2006, however, photographs taken by workers inside Violet Apparel and provided to labour rights advocates show order forms and thread lists for Nike products, as well as a list of products purportedly produced by Violet for another factory, Olive Apparel. Olive Apparel is one of Nike's suppliers, according to the brand's online manufacturing map. In its response, Nike said its Code of Conduct specifies Nike suppliers must not sub-contract without Nike's prior written approval, but as it did not have a relationship with Violet Apparel it could not comment on the specific allegations or remediation status. The full responses are included below.
In a rejoinder, the Cambodian Alliance for Trade Unions confirmed workers have been making Nike products at Violet Apparel for years and called on Nike to take responsibility for compensating workers. Nike provided no additional comment to its original response.
This case is featured in BHRRC's report, Wage theft and pandemic profits: The right to a living wage for garment workers, released in March 2021. Nike submitted an updated statement in response to the report, which said an independent investigation of the allegations found no evidence that Nike products were manufactured at Violet Apparel in recent years. Further, it said Ramatex Group has addressed the situation independently and engaged in an arbitration process which resulted in a binding decision, which they have acted upon. The full statement is included below.