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11 Sep 2023

Apparel Insider

Cambodia: Violet Apparel garment worker calls on Nike to pay owed severance compensation

"Nike turns its back on Cambodian workers", 11th September 2023


In July 2020, the Violet Apparel garment factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia factory closed suddenly, leaving 1,284 workers stranded and owed US$1.4m in severance compensation. Most of them were women. The Violet Apparel factory is owned by the Ramatex Group. According to testimony from workers, they manufactured Nike apparel through a subcontract from other Ramatex factories. Nike continues to be one of Ramatex’s biggest customers and has a responsibility to ensure these workers are paid what they are owed.

In recent years, it has become dangerous for Cambodian workers to speak out against exploitation and abuse. In desperation, many Violet Apparel workers have been outspoken despite the consequences. Below, one of the workers shares what she would like Nike’s investors, customers, and Board of Directors to know about Nike...

“I want to say that I know that Violet Apparel made clothes for Nike because we made shirts, shirts and pants....when the factory was still open, we could resolve our problems. But now, since the factory’s closure my daily spending has become difficult; I don’t have any income and my current position is difficult. The factory didn’t provide proper pay following the labour laws. Honestly, it’s the bank loans, my siblings’ education, and my parents are old and need money – so to sum it up, I’m the sole provider...

“...If I were to go and try to find work at a new factory that pays monthly, they wouldn’t take me because I am labelled a ‘worker representative’ and I am “old”. I am 40. Right now, I work by the day where they pay around USD 1/hour or something like that. But in a month, I only work 2-3 days, sometimes nothing. Now, even at the other factories, even the people who get paid monthly, also don’t have work, so I don’t have work either. The factories are letting the day workers go and for people who work monthly, they are getting 50 per cent pay cuts.

“I want the label owner to pay back the workers following the law. We work for a very popular brand, they have a very popular name, and they haven’t resolved their problems with us. I want to ask them to pay us back following the labour laws...We sewed for this brand, and we just want the [people] to comment or share the message so they can help quicken the process of resolving our problems. We just want them to help pressure the brand so we can receive the pay we are owed.”