Allegations regarding labour rights abuses at E-Garment factory in Cambodia
May 2013 update - scroll down
In February 2013, Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) released a brief alleging recurring labour rights abuses at the E-Garment factory in Kandal Province, Cambodia. E-Garment is owned by Hong Kong-based Yee Tung Garment Company and supplies to various well-known European and American brands.
The WRC reported on alleged violence against factory workers and staff of the independent union Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union (C.CAWDU) allegedly perpetrated by police acting at the behest of factory management, and "thugs" associated with the company-sponsored union. Other allegations include the failure to fulfill a prior commitment to reinstate fired workers, the illegal hiring of replacements for protesting employees, and other forms of intimidation and violence by company-paid police and "thugs". This follows earlier allegations of systematic termination of workers for their support for associational activities, and other forms of interference in union activities.
In March 2013, five European activists from Clean Clothes Campaign were detained while they were meeting with workers protesting outside E-Garment factory. The protesters alleged E-Garment illegally dismissed some workers because of their union-related activities. It was also alleged that workers were beaten by the police and “company-affiliated thugs“ during the protest.
Later in March, an agreement was signed between E-Garment and C. CAWDU - where E-Garment committed to reinstating the striking workers, and the union agreed to cease the strike.
Prior to the signing of the agreement Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the parent company of E-Garment, Yee Tung Garment, as well as all buyers named in the WRC brief to respond to the following items:
- [PDF] Renewed Violence at E Garment /Yee Tung Group (Cambodia), Worker Rights Consortium, 28 Feb 2013
- [PDF] “European activists detained by Cambodian police at garment protest”, Clean Clothes Campaign, 11 Mar 2013
- Bon-Ton Stores did not respond
- C&A response [DOC]
- Diesel did not respond
- Dress Barn response [PDF]
- Esprit response [DOC]
- Gruppo Coin indicated it will respond; we will post its response when we receive it
- ID Group/Okaidi did not respond
- Marks & Spencer response [PDF]
- Matalan response [DOC]
- Reitmans did not respond
- VF Corporation response [DOC]
- Yee Tung Garment response [PDF]
April 2013 Update
After the March agreement was signed, WRC issued statements summarising the points agreed upon, and commenting on what it saw as the agreement's deficiencies, including lack of specificity and of essential remedial measures. For example, according to WRC the remedial measures do not include any disciplinary action against employees responsible for the incidents of violence. WRC also said that no information was provided as to the dates by which the corrective measures will be undertaken, despite the alleged lengthy history of E-Garment failing to fulfill promises to remedy similar abuses.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre drew the attention of the companies concerned to the following statement of WRC:
- Agreement Imposes Unlawful Six-Month Suspension on Workers at E Garment, Worker Rights Consortium, 2 Apr 2013
Yee Tung Garment gave the following additional comment: “Just to inform you that the process of reinstatement will take place on 2 May and all workers and trade union leaders will be join the company again. After that it will begin a progressive process to accumulate trust between all stakeholders involved in order to develop mature industrial relations and promote the ILO caption of decent work at E-Garment facilities.”
May 2013 Update
Yee Tung Garment sent an update to Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, citing the following company actions and commitments: “…Fulfil commitments made in the 2009 Agreement concerning the reinstatement of 33 workers…Reinstatement of 8 workers dismissed (August 5, 2010)…87 workers returned to work and received the agreed wages from the date the strike began (January 24, 20130) to May 2, 2013...Developing 'mature industrial relations'…”
- [PDF] Yee Tung Garment Update, 5 May 2013, Yee Tung Garment