Nike Will Resume Cambodia Orders, Garment Officials Say

By Brian Calvert

the cambodia daily

The multinational shoe and ap­parel company Nike Inc has be­gun negotiations to resume pla­cing orders with Cambodian factories, garment officials said.

Nike pulled its orders from Cam­bodia more than 18 months ago after a British Broadcasting Corp television documentary al­leged that one of Nike’s Cam­bodian suppliers was em­ploy­ing underage girls.

“Nike is coming back [and] starting to place orders” with at least two factories, said Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cam­bodia. Van Sou Ieng pointed to a new, transparent system under which International Labor Or­ganization inspection teams visit some factories and publish their findings.

That kind of labor standard “in­frastructure” will hopefully make Cam­bodia a promising country for companies that want to guarantee their consumers that their products are made in good factories, said Jason Judd, field representative for the American Center for International Labor Solidarity.

High-profile companies like Nike are “looking for cover,” he said. “The monitoring and the trade agreement provide some measure of cover.”

Cambodia has signed a trade agreement with the US that links ac­cess to the US garment market to labor conditions. And while some of Cambodia’s neighbors have criticized the government for signing it, the return of Nike “shows that the agreement is not a folly,” Judd said. He suggested it will be the high labor standards that are ad­hered to in Cam­bodia “by a hand­ful of factories” that will give the country a niche market in the garment industry. But he cautioned that “a lot of companies have a long way to go.”

It was unclear Wednesday whether Nike would be returning to June Textiles Co, Ltd, the factory Nike pulled out of in Octo­ber 2000 after it was featured in the BBC broadcast.

“There has been no confirmation that they are coming back to June,” said June Textiles general manager William Ong, adding that the company was “hopeful” a deal could be reached with Nike.

The BBC documentary fo­cused on June’s alleged use of un­derage workers. One woman who told the BBC she was underage recanted, claiming she had been paid to make the claim. Nike, though, took no chances and canceled its orders, despite protests from workers that they were losing their jobs and assurances from Cambodian officials that the labor market was full of adults looking for factory jobs.

 

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