Once again, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) reposed its faith in veteran Van Sou Leng by electing him as chairman of the body at its annual general meeting. Interestingly, the GMAC has approved a new two-term limit on the two-year post.
Ken Loo, GMAC Secretary-General, said the 25-member executive committee was also voted on and saw an additional member added to make sure the association’s European-owned factories were fairly represented. All but six of them were on the committee already.
Last two years has been tumultuous for Cambodia’s $6-billion garment export industry which contributes about a third of the country’s GDP. Strikes and protests for higher wages in garment sector grew widespread and violent in late 2013 effectively shutting the industry down for a few days and came to an end only when military police shot into a crowd of demonstrators on January 3, 2014, killing at least five people.
The violence and work stoppages took their toll, helping convince some foreign brands to place more of their orders elsewhere. In 2014, Cambodia’s garment exports grew at roughly half the pace of the year before, though the World Bank also blamed stiffer competition from other countries and a rising dollar, to which the government has pegged the riel.
The industry also has to cope with a 28 per cent hike in garment workers’ minimum wage that took effect in January, and is at odds with some unions over a Union Law that the government hopes to pass this year.