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Cambodian industry hit by disputes

Cambodia's garment and footwear exports earned $3.92 billion over the first eight months of 2014, up more than 7 per cent year-on-year. The latest numbers show a slowdown after year-on-year earnings for the first six months of the year were up 16 per cent.

Garment manufacturers  say, persistent strikes from unruly unions are driving many clothing brands to place their orders elsewhere. Manufacturers say they are experiencing falling orders, forcing them to scale back on overtime hours and shut down some of their assembly lines.

Unions accuse the factories of fear-mongering amid tense wage negotiations. Unions are demanding that the government raise the sector’s current monthly minimum wage of $100 by $77. Factories want a more modest $10 raise.

Advocacy groups are urging clothing brands to review their purchasing practices and take action to ultimately end low wages, which are at the root of the demonstrations in Cambodia. American companies in Cambodia have expressed their concern over the pay hike disturbances. They have called for the government, manufacturers and trade unions to develop a regularly-scheduled wage review mechanism. One solution to the problem, they say, is to have all brands and retailers develop long-term relationships with suppliers so they have more control in the working conditions offshore.


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