Brands can no longer resort to short-term contracts for garment workers in Cambodia. A legal clarification it makes it clear that, aside from an initial probationary period, those who have served for two years or more are entitled to contract upgrades, to permanent positions with bonuses and benefits.
Workers on short-term contracts are seen as less likely to be involved in unions, to report abuses, or to push back against bosses racing to meet rising production targets, for fear of losing their job. Under increased scrutiny as the world becomes informed of abuse faced by workers in fashion supply chains, Cambodia’s garment sector has been overhauled in recent years. But as salaries and standards rise, so do production targets as factories look to offset increased costs. Threats of contract non-renewal are used to force workers into working regular overtime, meeting excessive production targets and from engaging in independent trade unionism. Short-term contracts mean that as soon as a worker is brave enough to stand up for their rights, they can be silenced.
The garment industry is a pillar of Cambodia’s economy, accounting for 40 per cent of gross domestic product and employing more than seven lakh people, mostly women. But it is rife with labor and human rights violations.