As the industrial world globalizes, foreign companies are increasingly making use of factories in Cambodia. Upon reading your article “‘Systematic’ Labor Abuse at Garment Plants, Group Finds,” I have realized that the situation of workers in these factories is much more grave than I thought.
With the support of organizations like ILO’s Better Factories and brand names such as Nike, Gap, and H&M, I assumed that this situation had improved enough to be somewhat passable. However, this article makes me think otherwise. Factory violations such as child labor, abuse of short-term contracts, illegal overtime hours, and union busting are prevalent. This is a problem that demands a response; the workers’ mistreatment cannot be ignored.
However, when addressing this issue, we must take into account that the situation is not just one party’s fault. John Ciorciari, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Public Policy School, pointed out in your article that “weak local governance, exploitative factories and retailers, and bargain-hunting consumers” all shared a part of the blame for workers’ situation. But perhaps the most important are the governments of countries where Cambodia-made garments are sold. I sincerely hope that these governments can contribute to solving this problem.
Natalie Song, Phnom Penh
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