The garment and footwear industry of Cambodia reported a 12.6 per cent rise in exports in the first seven months of 2014. The growth in the garment and footwear sector is low because some international buyers have reduced their purchase orders following wage protests earlier this year.
This industry is Cambodia’s largest income earner. Products are mainly exported to European countries and the United States. The sector comprises 960 factories with some 6,20,000 workers. It earned 5.5 billion dollars from exports last year, accounting for about 80 per cent of the country’s total exports.
Last week, trade union activists launched a campaign to demand a monthly minimum wage of 177 dollars in the garment and footwear sector from the current 100 dollars. Manufacturers favor the country for its low-wage costs, but strikes are frequent because of what union leaders say is widespread discontent with meager salaries, poor working conditions and lax enforcement of labor laws.
The campaign to seek a higher minimum wage is being supported by foreign trade unions. The campaign is targeting retail stores, offices, and workplaces of multinational apparel sellers. Unions say that for too long, international brands have reaped the benefits of poverty wages while claiming a commitment to living wages in their supply chains.