Over 40,000 garment workers have lost their jobs, and 58 factories have been closed in the garment sector since last August, Chhoun Momthol, president of the Cambodian Union Federation said Tuesday.
Referring to figures published in a report released last week by the CUF, Mr Momthol said that 41,117 garment workers had lost their jobs in the past 9 months. The report also declared that an additional 25,403 workers within the sector have been suspended from their posts until the industry makes a recovery.
“The garment sector is still in a bad way. Just last week we saw another factory shut down with a loss of over 1,000 jobs,” said Mr Momthol, whose CUF claims 78,000 members.
The numbers stated in the CUF report are slightly more modest compared to the 51,000 job that the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia recently announced had been lost in the sector between September 2008 and March 2009.
Additionally, GMAC chairman Van Sou Ieng last week announced that between 20,000 to 40,000 more workers had either completely lost their jobs or had been suspended in the past 10 weeks.
The CUF report also declared that 58 factories have closed since August and 33 more have suspended their activities. The UN Development Program, however, said last week that 70 factories have been shut down over the same time period.
Mr Momthol added that since the report had come out a number of factories had been closed down adding more jobs to the total list of casualties declared within the report.
“The figures were compiled by the union leaders and only represent an approximate picture of the situation,” Mr Momthol said of the CUF report. “Things are changing so quickly.”
Roger Tan, secretary-general at GMAC, said that in any report on the numbers of job losses there could be a margin of error of between 10 to 30 percent due to the rapid turnover within the sector’s work force.
Despite the dark clouds gathering over Cambodia’s textile industry, Mr Momthol said he expected orders from the US and Europe to make a comeback in either July or August of this year.
Mr Tan also said the garment industry will start to see some modest gains in the coming months.
“However it will not be that fantastic,” he said. “Because buyers have also had to close stores, sales will come back but with less growth.”
Unlike the days of double-digit growth back in early 2008, Mr Tan said, a 5 percent rebound is likely for the remainder of 2009.
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