Softening statements that Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh made last week, when he blamed labor unions for pushing the garment industry to “the brink,” Commerce Ministry Secretary of State Sok Siphana said Thursday that not all garment buyers are fleeing Cambodia over labor conflict.
“Buyers understand that in an industry with 200,000 workers there are going to be disputes. We cannot control these disputes,” Sok Siphana said.
“Some buyers leave but others will come. The way I look at it is that you win some and you lose some,” he said. “The garment industry is not going to thrive but it is going to survive.”
Last week, Cham Prasidh said that overseas orders were canceled in February because “too many demonstrations make buyers worry and not come to buy.”
In a letter written Monday, a group of seven garment workers’ unions wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen taking issue with similar statements by Garment Manufacturers Association President Van Sou Ieng, who said that unions are getting “out of control.”
“Mr Van Sou Ieng forgets to mention that the increase in the tension between garment unions and industry management within the last five months is due to the actions of a number of bad employers that have closed down without paying their obligations according to the Labor Law,” the unions wrote.
“With the ending of the Multi-Fiber Agreement last Jan 1, the incentive for bad employers to behave according to the Labor Law has diminished. Bad employers have increased their activities against unions,” they wrote.
Also this week, the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation asked the Gap, buyer of some 30 percent of Cambodian garments, to help track down the owners of the Sam Han factory who fled to South Korea last month after closing their factory in Phnom Penh.
According to Neil Kearney, secretary general of the federation, Gap has said it is working with the government to locate Sam Han’s owners.
who owe 6,500 workers unemployment compensation.