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7 Dec 2020

Cambodia: Over 2,000 workers protest over unpaid benefits after Hung Wah factory suspends operations during COVID-19; Incl. H&M's response

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In September 2020, over 2,000 workers at Hung Wah factory in Cambodia joined protests over unpaid seniority benefits, after the factory suspended operations in June as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to publicly available supplier information, Hung Wah produces for H&M.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited H&M to respond. In its response, H&M said during the pandemic the Cambodian government issued guidelines to allow employers to postpone the indemnity for seniority due in 2020 to 2021, however the workers at Hung Wah did not accept the delay and went on strike. The case was forwarded to the Arbitration Council, which ordered workers to return to work. Two workers were singled out and suspended on accusations of incitement to strike and they are now awaiting the outcome from the Arbitration Council. H&M said it has been fully engaged with the supplier and has made it clear that they do not tolerate workers being punished for exercising their right to freedom of association. It said it has been in touch with local unions and the dispute over payment of seniority benefits was resolved by Hung Wah and the workers in October. The full response is included below.