Cambodia: Unions urge factory producing for intl. apparel brands to withdraw charges against jailed union leader released on bail; Incl. company responses
On 2 April 2020, garment factory worker and union leader Soy Sros was arrested in Cambodia after posting a message on social media criticizing the planned dismissal of union members, including a pregnant woman, from Superl Cambodia Ltd during the Covid-19 crisis. Soy Sros - local president of the Collective Union of Movement of Workers - wrote about the company’s actions on Facebook, stating it violated an appeal from the Cambodian government that the pandemic should not be used as a pretext to discriminate against union members.
On 28 June, after spending almost two months in detention where she reportedly experienced a deterioration in health, Sros was released on bail. She has been charged with ‘provocation’ under the criminal code and faces up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of six million Riel (approx. US$1,500). According to media reports, the factory produces for Michael Kors, Tory Burch & Kate Spade (Tapestry).
Local and international unions are calling for the following demands to be met, by pressure on the factory owners and the buyers:
- All charges against Mrs Soy Sros must be dropped;
- Mrs Soy Sros to be immediately reinstated in her role at the factory;
- Mrs Soy Sros to receive back pay for wages lost during her detention, also accounting for the harm to her reputation;
- Ensure that workers' rights and FoA is fully respected and that Mrs. Soy Sros will not be retaliated against upon reinstatement.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Superl Holdings Ltd, Michael Kors, Tory Burch & Tapestry to respond to the allegations. Superl Holdings responded and the response is included below. Michael Kors, Tory Burch & Tapestry did not respond.